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Whipple Library

Department of History and Philosophy of Science

Little is known about the life of Margaret Bryan beyond that articulated in her books. An educator, she ran schools for girls and notably included the study of physics, mechanics, chemistry, astronomy and mathematics in her curriculum. Designed initially for her pupils rather than the wider public, this work was produced from her lecture notes. In the Preface, Bryan sets out her aim: to make seemingly obscure topics clearer for a young audience. Publication of these lectures was endorsed by the mathematician Charles Hutton and the volume contains a long list of subscribers. On the list are members of Cambridge and Oxford colleges, celebrated mathematicians and astronomers, and many women, including a large number of Bryan’s own pupils. Praise for this volume encouraged her to publish her Lectures on natural philosophy in 1806. In the frontispiece to her astronomical work, Bryan is shown with her 2 daughters, accompanied by scientific instruments, emphasising her roles as a mother and educator in the sciences.

Bryan Astronomy title page   Bryan Astronomy frontispiece

A compendious system of astronomy, in a course of familiar lectures, by Margaret Bryan
London : printed for the author and sold by Leigh and Sotheby… and G. Kearsley, 1797

Bryan Astronomy preface

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