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Whipple Library

Department of History and Philosophy of Science

Young title page open

The theory of sets of points, by W.H. Young and Grace Chisholm Young
Cambridge : At the University Press, 1906

Grace Emily Chisholm Young (1868-1944) authored this work with her husband William. It was the first textbook in English on the subject of set theory.

After completing the mathematics tripos at Girton College, Cambridge, Grace Young unofficially took the degree exam at Oxford. She is thought to have been the first person to gain a First at both universities. She then went to Göttingen to study for a PhD. In 1895, she became the first woman to receive a doctorate from a German university. During their married life, Grace mainly lived in Switzerland with their children, while William took up various academic posts, in locations ranging from Cambridge to Calcutta. Between them, William and Grace wrote some 214 mathematical papers. These were mainly published under William’s name, but Grace often elaborated on the arguments, corrected mistakes and wrote the papers up for publication.

Young signatureThis book belonged to the Youngs and the half-title page bears Grace Young's signature. The volume contains notes in preparation for a 2nd edition of their textbook. Private correspondence, pictures, postcards and letters from other mathematicians, and reviews of the first edition are also pasted into the book.

William and Grace never completed their 2nd edition, but one was produced using this copy. Published in 1972, it was prepared by their daughter Cecily Tanner, also a mathematician, and  Dr Ivor Grattan-Guinness, historian of mathematics. The Young's copy was owned by Grattan-Guinness and contains his signature and bookplate.

Young Grattan signature     Young Grattan bookplate