Article ID: CBB258332860

John Leigh, Lydia Becker and Their Shared Botanical Interests (2021)


This article examines the relationship between John Leigh (1812–1888) and Lydia Becker (1827–1890). Leigh was a prominent figure in the scientific circles of Manchester in the mid-nineteenth century and the city's Medical Officer for Health. Becker was a botanist and Leigh's second cousin. She corresponded with Charles Darwin and became a pioneer in the women's suffrage movement. Previous studies have argued that Leigh patronized and discouraged Becker's botanical interests. However, newly-discovered correspondence shows that Leigh respected her abilities and encouraged her development as a botanist, including attendance at the British Association for the Advancement of Science meetings where she presented one of the first scientific papers by a female botanist in Britain. While social and institutional norms in the Victorian era discouraged women from entering science, these norms could be transgressed in interactions involving specific individuals.

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Authors & Contributors
Withers, Charles W. J.
Finnegan, Diarmid A.
Higgitt, Rebekah
Aldrich, John
Moore, P. G.
White, Paul S.
British Journal for the History of Science
Archives of Natural History
Archive for History of Exact Sciences
Journal of Historical Geography
History of Science
Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage
University of Pittsburgh Press
Verlag für Wissenschaft und Bildung
Palgrave Macmillan
Scientific communities; interprofessional relations
Correspondence and corresponding
Societies; institutions; academies
Professions and professionalization
Science and society
Science and culture
Tyndall, John
Pearson, Karl
Burnside, William
Kropotkin, Petr Alekseevich
Reclus, Jean Jacques Élisée
Stokes, George Gabriel
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
18th century
Great Britain
British Association for the Advancement of Science
Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh
Royal Society of London
Royal Institution of Great Britain

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