Chemistry in the Schoolroom: 1806: Selections from Mrs. Marcet's Conversations on Chemistry

Front Cover
AuthorHouse, May 1, 2006 - Biography & Autobiography - 212 pages


1806: Chemistry lectures were all the rage in fashionable London, and not only for men. But one member of the audience at the Royal Institution thought that women would benefit more from the lectures if there were a suitable book to accompany them. So Jane Marcet wrote Conversations on Chemistry, which features Mrs. B. tutoring two bright teenagers: diligent Emily and ebullient Caroline. The book inspired not only women; Michael Faraday was one of Marcets many fans, and nearly 160,000 copies of the fifteen editions of the book were eventually sold in Britain and North America.

To understand the books popularity, to enjoy Marcets fresh approach and elegant diagrams, and to learn much of the social life of the time, todays reader need only dip into these lively selections, introduced by a former tutor of chemistry. Although some of the science may now seem quaint, Mrs. B.s educational ideas, and Carolines undisciplined intelligence will strike a chord with many of todays teachers and their former pupils.


What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2006)


Jane Marcet (ne Haldimand), 1769-1858, was the oldest child in a well-to-do Anglo-Swiss London family which had wide scientific, literary and financial connections. She was educated mainly at home, both by visiting tutors in boys subjects and by traditional governesses. When her mother died, fifteen-year-old Jane had to run the large household, be hostess at her fathers frequent intellectual soires and supervise the education of her siblings. In 1799, she married the physician Alexander Marcet, who had a strong interest in chemistry, and later was a co-founder of the Royal Society of Medicine. She produced four children, (one of whom died aged 10), and about thirty educational books. She enjoyed riding, travel to her relations in Switzerland, and painting; her elegant draughtsmanship is evident from the diagrams in this book.


Hazel Rossotti (ne Marsh) was Fellow and Tutor in Chemistry at St. Annes College, Oxford University, UK for nearly forty years (and a part-time teacher of science to 12-year old boys for three). She did her first degree and her doctorate at Oxford, where married Francis, a fellow research student. There followed research and teaching at Stockholm and Edinburgh, a break for family and book-writing, and return to Oxford. Her primary research interest is chemical equilibria in solution, and she has written specialist books in this field. But she also enjoys writing about wider aspects of science for a variety of readers, including young people and adult non-scientists.

Now a Senior Research Fellow of St. Annes, she is exploring previous scientific books for pre-adult readers. She and her husband still live in Oxford, where she appreciates its libraries, townscape, countryside and good company; and its opportunities for continued learning: in stained-glass work, in modern and ancient Greek, in IT and, until recently, in windsurfing. But her main hobby is black-and-white photography.

Bibliographic information