Women in British History most influential on Science
In 2010, to celebrate its 350th anniversary, The Royal Society asked a panel of experts – all leading female scientists or science historians – to vote for the ten women in British History who have had the most influence on science. Professors Lorna Casselton, Athene Donald, Uta Frith and Julia Higgins, all Fellows of the Royal Society, and Dr Patricia Fara, an eminent historian of science, made up the panel. The title of this paper goes beyond science, but let’s start with the ten scientists they chose:
Picture Credit/Attribution: 1847 lithograph of Caroline Herschel around 97 years of age. ETH Library, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. File URL: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/40/ETH-BIB-Herschel%2C_Caroline_%281750-1848%29-Portrait-Portr_11026-092-SF.jpg
Caroline Lucretia Herschel (1750–1848)
Caroline Herschel was born in 1750 in Hannover, Germany, but moved to England with her brother, the astronomer William Herschel, in 1772. She became William’s general assistant and helped him by writing down his observations and helping him produce reflective telescopes. Caroline occupied herself with astronomical theory and mastered algebra and formulae for calculation and conversion as a basis for observing the stars and managing astronomical distances. Caroline joined her brother when he was appointed royal astronomer at the court at Windsor and served him as his scientific assistant. Between 1786 and 1797, she discovered eight comets and discovered fourteen nebulae, began a catalogue for star clusters and nebulae patches, and compiled a supplemental catalogue to Flamsteed’s Atlas which included 561 stars with a comprehensive index. She was the first woman to receive a salary as a scientist and the first woman in England to hold a government position. She was also the first woman to publish scientific findings in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, to be awarded a Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1828), and to be named an Honorary Member of the Royal Astronomical Society (in 1835, with Mary Somerville).
Mary Somerville (1780–1872)
Mary Somerville’s first scientific investigations began in the summer of 1825 when she carried out experiments on magnetism. In 1826 she presented her paper entitled ‘The Magnetic Properties of the Violet Rays of the Solar Spectrum’ to the Royal Society. The paper attracted favourable notice and, aside from the astronomical observations of Caroline Herschel, was the first paper by a woman to be read to the Royal Society and published in its Philosophical Transactions.
In 1827, Lord Brougham began correspondence with Mary to persuade her to write a popularised rendition of Laplace’s Mecanique Céleste and Newton’s Principia. He hoped that she could reach a larger audience by communicating the concepts clearly through simple illustrations and experiments that most people could understand. The Mechanism of the Heavens was a great success, probably the most famous of her mathematical writings.
Mary Anning (1799-1847)
Mary Anning was an early British fossil collector and palaeontologist. She spent her life working in Lyme Regis. Her skill in locating and preparing fossils, as well as the richness of the Jurassic era marine fossil beds at Lyme Regis, resulted in her making several important finds. These included the skeleton of the first ichthyosaur to be recognised and the first two plesiosaur skeletons ever found, the first pterosaur skeleton found outside of Germany, and some important fossil fish. Her observations also played a key role in the discovery that coprolites, known as bezoar stones at the time, were fossilised faeces.
Picture Credit/Attribution: Portrait of Mary Anning with her dog Tray and the Golden Cap outcrop in the background, Natural History Museum, London. Credited to ‘Mr. Grey’ in Crispin Tickell’s book ‘Mary Anning of Lyme Regis’ (1996), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
File URL: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e7/Mary_Anning_painting.jpg
Anning’s gender and social class prevented her from fully participating in the scientific community of early 19th century Britain, and she did not always receive full credit for her contributions. As a woman, she was not eligible to join the Geological Society of London, and she did not always receive full credit for her scientific contributions. Despite this, she became well known in geological circles in Britain and beyond, although she struggled financially for much of her life. After her death, her enormous contribution to palaeontology was largely forgotten.
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836–1917)
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was a pioneering physician and political campaigner. She was the first Englishwoman to qualify as a doctor. Female physicians were unheard of in 19th century Britain, and her attempts to study at several medical schools were denied. In 1865 she passed the Society of Apothecaries examinations and gained a certificate that enabled her to become a doctor. The Society then changed its rules to prevent other women from entering the profession this way.
In 1866, she established a dispensary for women in London. In 1870, she was a visiting physician at the East London Hospital. Despite obtaining a medical degree from the University of Paris, the British Medical Register refused to recognise her qualification. In 1872, Anderson founded the New Hospital for Women in London (later renamed after its founder), staffed entirely by women.
Anderson’s determination paved the way for other women, and in 1876 an act was passed permitting women to enter the medical professions. In 1883, Anderson was appointed dean of the London School of Medicine for Women, which she had helped to found in 1874, and oversaw its expansion.
In 1902, Anderson retired to Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast. In 1908, she became the mayor of the town, the first female mayor in England. She was also a member of the suffragette movement, as was her daughter Louisa.
Hertha Ayrton (1854–1923)
Hertha Ayrton (née Marks) attended Girton College, Cambridge University, where she studied Mathematics and received a B.Sc. degree from the University of London. Afterwards, she worked as a private mathematics tutor for a time. She began her scientific studies by attending classes in physics at Finsbury Technical College given by Professor William Ayrton, whom she married in 1885.
Aryton assisted her husband with his experiments in physics and electricity, becoming an expert on the subject of the electric ark and published several papers from her own research in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London and The Electrician. She published her widely acclaimed work The Electric Arc in 1902.
Ayrton was elected the first female member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers in 1899. In 1902 she became the first woman nominated a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, although because she was married, she could not be elected to this distinction.
In 1904, Ayrton became the first woman to read her own paper before the Royal Society on ‘The origin and growth of ripple-mark’. She received the Royal Society’s Hughes Medal for her investigations in 1906.
Kathleen Lonsdale FRS (1903–1971)
Kathleen Lonsdale was an early pioneer of X-ray crystallography, a field primarily concerned with studying the shapes of organic and inorganic molecules. In 1945, Lonsdale was the first woman, along with microbiologist Marjory Stephenson, admitted as a fellow to the Royal Society. She was the first female professor at University College, London, the first woman named president of the International Union of Crystallography, and the first woman to hold the post of president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. She accepted her achievements as a pioneering woman scientist with characteristic humility. In 1966, the “lonsdaleite, ” a rare form of meteoric diamond, was named for her.
Lonsdale was born on 28th January 1903 in Newbridge, Ireland, but grew up in England and won a scholarship to attend County High School for Girls in Ilford. At the age of 16, she enrolled in Bedford College for Women in London, where in 1922, she received a B.Sc. in mathematics and physics. William Henry Bragg, the 1915 Nobel Laureate in Physics, was so impressed with her academic performance that he invited her to work with him and a team of scientists using X-ray technology to explore the crystal structure of organic compounds. Londsdale worked with Bragg intermittently until he died in 1942.
Lonsdale and her husband, Thomas Jackson Lonsdale, were committed pacifists. They worked toward world peace, as well as prison reform. During World War II, she and her husband gave shelter to refugees, and in 1943 Lonsdale spent a month in jail for refusing to register for war duties and then refusing to pay a fine of two pounds. In 1956, she wrote a book in reaction to extensive nuclear testing by the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain titled: Is Peace Possible?
In 1956, Lonsdale was named a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and in 1957 she received the Davy Medal of the Royal Society. In 1966, she became the first female president of the International Union of Crystallography. In 1968, she was the first woman to hold the post of president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.
Elsie Widdowson FRS (1908–2000)
Elsie Widdowson grew up during the First World War in London. She studied Chemistry at Imperial College London and took the B.Sc examination after two years. As a graduate, she worked with Helen Archbold (later Helen Porter, FRS), who steered her into one of the most remarkable scientific careers of the century. She took doctorates at Imperial College and at the Courtauld Institute of Biochemistry, becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1976 and, in 1993, a Companion of Honour.
Widdowson specialised in the scientific analysis of food, nutrition and the relationship between diet before and after birth and its effects on development. She entered into a 60-year partnership with Professor RA McCance in 1933. Their joint recognition that contemporary nutritional tables were substantially wrong cemented a highly creative collaboration, which revolutionised the way the world assessed nutritional values, how it investigated problems of dietary deficiencies and how mammalian development was perceived. Famously, Widdowson became involved in nutritional problems faced in Britain during the Second World War, particularly experimenting with minimal diets. Over long periods of self-deprivation, McCane and Widdowson showed that health could be maintained on a diet so small that others believed starvation would be inevitable. She was also consulted on the careful dietary policy needed to remedy the effects of gross starvation suffered by Nazi concentration camp victims and later investigated the effects of different types of bread on the recovery rates of malnourished children in the general population of Germany. Widdowson spent most of her working life in Cambridge, at the Medical Research Council Unit of Experimental (later Investigative) Medicine and at the Dunn Nutrition Unit.
Dorothy Mary Crowfoot Hodgkin FRS (1910–1994)
Dorothy Hodgkin (née Crowfoot) read for a degree in chemistry at Somerville College, the University of Oxford, in 1928. In 1932 she moved to the University of Cambridge to carry out doctoral research. In physicist John Desmond Bernal’s laboratory, she extended his work on biological molecules, including sterols (the subject of her thesis), and helped him to make the first X-ray diffraction studies of pepsin, a crystalline protein. She returned to Oxford in 1934, where she remained until her retirement in 1977. She established an X-ray laboratory in a corner of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and almost immediately began work taking X-ray photographs of insulin.
Picture Credit/Attribution: Dorothy Mary Crowffot Hodgkin (12 May 1910 – 29 July 1994).
Unknown Author. Unattributed photograph from Les Prix Nobel 1964 p84
In 1939, when Australian pathologist Howard Florey and his colleagues at Oxford succeeded in isolating penicillin, they asked Hodgkin to solve its structure. By 1945 she had succeeded, describing the arrangement of its atoms in three dimensions. Hodgkin’s work on penicillin was recognised by her election to the Royal Society, in 1947, only two years after a woman had been elected for the first time. In the mid-1950s, Hodgkin discovered the structure of vitamin B12. Nominated more than once for the Nobel Prize, she won it in 1964 for her work on penicillin and vitamin B12. The following year she was made a member of the Order of Merit in recognition of her contribution to science. Hodgkin devoted much of the latter part of her life to the cause of scientists in developing countries, especially China and India, and to improving East-West relations and disarmament. From 1975 to 1988, she was president of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs.
Rosalind Elsie Franklin (1920–1958)
Rosalind Elsie Franklin was a British biophysicist, physicist, chemist, biologist and X-ray crystallographer who made contributions to the understanding of the fine molecular structures of DNA, RNA, viruses, coal and graphite. She went to Newnham College, Cambridge in 1938 and passed her finals in 1941, but was only awarded a degree titular as women were not entitled to degrees at that time. She received her PhD from Ohio University in 1945. Franklin is best known for her work on the X-ray diffraction images of DNA. Her data was a part of the data used to formulate Crick and Watson’s 1953 hypothesis regarding the structure of DNA. Unpublished drafts of her papers show that she had determined the overall B-form of the DNA helix. Her work supported the hypothesis of Watson and Crick and was published third in the series of three DNA Nature articles. After finishing her portion of the DNA work, Franklin led pioneering work on the tobacco mosaic and polio viruses. Franklin died from ovarian cancer at the age of 37, four years before Crick, Watson and Wilkins were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962 for their work on DNA. Franklin was unable to receive the prize as Nobel Prizes cannot be awarded posthumously, but egregiously, she received no mention in the acceptance speeches.
Picture Credit/Attribution: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
File URL: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/97/Rosalind_Franklin.jpg. MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Although Franklin’s contribution to the ‘discovery’ of DNA is now widely recognised, there remains a lingering sense that her contribution was unjustly overlooked and undervalued. Her contribution was not recognised in many science books until the 1990s.
Dame Anne Laura Dorinthea McLaren FRS (1927–2007)
An exceptional scientist, Anne McLaren made fundamental advances in genetics which paved the way for the development of in vitro fertilisation. Her groundbreaking work led to the birth of the first test-tube baby.
She was the daughter of a wealthy family of industrialists and was awarded a scholarship to read Zoology at Oxford, where she studied the genetics of rabbits. As a researcher in London, she worked with mice, studying the effects of super ovulation on fertility. Working with John Biggers, she produced the first litter of mice grown from eggs that had developed in tissue culture and then been transferred to a surrogate mother, paving the way for embryo transfer in human IVF. She worked at the Institute of Animal Genetics in Edinburgh for 15 years before returning to London as Director of the MRC Mammalian Development Unit, developing projects on reproductive immunology, contraception and chimaeras. Aside from her scientific achievements, she was committed to negotiating the ethical and legal implications of genetics research. She encouraged honest discussion and believed science needed to engage the public to gain its trust. Later, at the Gurdon Institute, she continued research on stem cells.
She became the first female officer of the Royal Society in 331 years, when she was appointed as their Foreign Secretary between 1991-1996 and travelled widely, becoming a role model for women in science. She was also a research fellow at King’s College, Cambridge. Dame Anne spent the next 15 years at the Institute of Animal Genetics in Edinburgh, where she continued researching the reproduction, growth and genetics of mice. Her greatest achievement came in 1958, with the first successful delivery of mice that had grown as embryos outside the mother’s womb. This groundbreaking work paved the way for the world’s first test-tube baby in 1978. In the 1960s and 70s, Dame Anne was involved in pioneering research into immuno-contraception, DNA hybridization and chimaeras. From 1974, she was director of the MRC Mammalian Development Unit at UCL until her retirement in 1992.
British Women who challenged their World Apart from the field of Science, British Women have influenced our Society and lives in many ways, as you’ll discover below:
Jane Austen: Author (1775–1817)
Perhaps one of the first modern-era feminists, Jane Austen’s literary work is still praised around the world today. Known for her six major novels – Pride and Prejudice being the one that stands out – Austen’s plots often explore a woman’s social standing, marriage and economic security – which interpret, critique, and comment upon the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. She helped to shape the literary sphere as we know it, with her work being the basis and inspiration for many other novels, films and TV shows as well.
Florence Nightingale: Nurse (1820–1910)
Born in Florence, Italy, Florence Nightingale rose to prominence during the Crimean War, where she led a team of nurses and ultimately became an icon of Victorian culture and gave nursing a favourable reputation. After the war, she established the first secular nursing school in the world at St Thomas’ Hospital in London and now, new nurses need to take the Nightingale Pledge in her honour. International Nurses Day is celebrated on her birthday (12th May) each year. The Florence Nightingale Medal is the highest international distinction a nurse can receive. During her lifetime, she helped improve healthcare across the UK, advocated for better hunger relief in India, helped abolish harsh prostitution laws for women and helped to expand the acceptable forms of female participation in the workplace. She never married.
Emmeline Pankhurst: Political activist (1858–1928)
Emmeline Pankhurst was a controversial figure as the head of the British Suffragette movement. In 1903 she began the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), and members became known for resorting to militant tactics, including crimes and hunger strikes, to get their message across: that women should have the right to vote in the UK. Pankhurst has been heralded as a crucial figure in helping women achieve the vote, which they did in February 1918. Time magazine named her as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century, stating that “she shaped an idea of objects for our time” and “shook society into a new pattern from which there could be no going back”. She was widely criticised for her militant tactics, and historians disagree about their effectiveness, but her work is recognised as a crucial element in achieving women’s suffrage in the United Kingdom.
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher: First Woman British Prime Minister (1925–2013)
Margaret Thatcher was the first female British Prime Minister – coming to power in May 1979 – 61 years after women in the UK first got the right to vote. Her 11 years in office meant she was the longest-serving British Prime Minister of the 20th Century. A Soviet journalist dubbed her the “Iron Lady”, a nickname that became associated with her uncompromising politics and leadership style.
Before politics, Mrs Thatcher studied chemistry at Somerville College, Oxford, and worked briefly as a research chemist, then became a barrister.
Queen Elizabeth II: Longest-reigning British Monarch (Born 1926)
When Queen Elizabeth was born, she never expected to be Queen. Only when her uncle (Edward VIII) abdicated the throne and her father became King George VIII, Elizabeth become heir to the throne. After her father’s untimely death in 1952, Elizabeth became Queen aged just 25 and is now Britain’s longest-serving monarch.
Helen Beatrix Potter: Author (1866–1943)Helen Beatrix Potter was a writer, natural scientist, conservationist and illustrator, among other things, but she was best known for her children’s books, particularly The Tales of Peter Rabbit. Potter self-published her first book when she was in her thirties and published an additional 30 books, 23 of which were children’s stories. With the money from the proceeds of her books, she purchased a farm in the Lake District and bought the surrounding farms to preserve the countryside. Upon her death, she donated this land to the National Trust, which now comprises a large part of the Lake District National Park.
Agatha Christie: Author (1890–1976)
During her lifetime, Agatha Christie wrote 66 detective novels and 14 short stories. While Christie initially received six rejections for her work, when she introduced the character Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, her success grew. Outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare, and having sold over two billion novels, she is the best-selling novelist of all time.
Ada Lovelace: Mathematician (1815–1852)
Picture Credit/Attribution: Page URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ada_Lovelace_Chalon_portrait.jpg By Alfred Edward Chalon, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (née Byron), the daughter of Anne Isabella Noel Byron, 11th Baroness Wentworth and Baroness Byron (née Milbanke) and famed poet Lord Byron, was raised on a strict educational diet of science and mathematics. She formed a love for machines at a young age, and in her teenage years, she began her working relationship with Charles Babbage, also known as the father of computers. Together, they worked on the Analytical Engine. Lovelace translated an article on it that many consider the first instance of computer programming. Lovelace was also the first person on record to acknowledge the capability of what computers could do, knowing they could go further than just number crunching. She died of uterine cancer in 1852, aged just 36.
Marie Stopes: Women’s rights campaigner (1880–1958)
Marie Stopes made significant contributions to plant palaeontology and coal classification, but she was also the first woman on the faculty of the University of Manchester and founded the first birth control clinic in the UK. The clinic, based in north London, was run by midwives, and doctors offered mothers birth control advice and taught them birth control methods. After her death, the Marie Stopes International organisation (now named MSI Reproductive Choices since November 2020) was established to help continue the running of the clinic and the number of others she opened during her lifetime across the UK.
Nancy Witcher Langhorne Astor, Viscountess Astor: Politician (1879–1964)
Viscountess Nancy Astor was an American-born British politician who was the first woman seated as a Member of Parliament (MP), serving from 1919 to 1945; after British women won the vote in 1918, Viscountess Nancy Astor became the first woman MP to sit in the House of Commons the following year.
Astor’s first husband was American Robert Gould Shaw II; the couple separated after four years and divorced in 1903. She moved to England and married Waldorf Astor. After her husband succeeded to the peerage and entered the House of Lords, she entered politics as a member of the Conservative Party and won her husband’s former seat of Plymouth Sutton in 1919, becoming the first woman to sit as an MP in the House of Commons. She served in Parliament until 1945, when she was persuaded to step down. Astor has been criticised for her antisemitism and sympathetic view of National Socialism.
Dame Gracie Fields: Actress, Singer and Comedienne (1898–1979)
Dame Gracie Fields DBE OStJ (born Grace Stansfield, over a fish and chip shop owned by her grandmother, in Molesworth Street, Rochdale, Lancashire) was an English actress, singer, comedienne and star of cinema and music hall who was one of the top ten film stars in Britain during the 1930s and the highest-paid film star in the world in 1937. She made her first stage appearance as a child (in 1905), joining children’s repertory theatre groups such as “Haley’s Garden of Girls” and the “Nine Dainty Dots“. Her two sisters, Edith Fields and Betty Fields, and brother, Tommy Fields, all went on to appear on stage, but Gracie was the most successful. Her professional debut in variety took place at the Rochdale Hippodrome theatre in 1910. The Burnley newspaper described her as “The Girl with the Double Voice”.
In the 1930s, her popularity was at its peak, and she was given many honours: she became an Officer of the Venerable Order of St John (OStJ) for her charity work, and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for her services to entertainment in the 1938 New Year Honours List, and was granted the Freedom of the Borough of Rochdale in 1937. In 1933, she set up the Gracie Fields Children’s Home and Orphanage at Peacehaven, Sussex (as she lived nearby) for children of those in the theatre profession who could not look after their children. During WW II, Fields travelled to France to entertain the troops during air raids, performing on the backs of open lorries and in war-torn areas. She also paid for all servicemen and women to travel free on public transport within the boundaries of Rochdale, but after the war, Fields continued her career less actively.
Vera Lynn: Singer and Entertainer (1917–2020)
Dame Vera Margaret Lynn CH DBE OStJ (née Welch) was an English singer and entertainer whose musical recordings and performances were very popular during WW II.
She is honourifically known as the “Forces’ Sweetheart”, having given outdoor concerts for the troops in Egypt, India and Burma during the war as part of the Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA). The songs most associated with her include “We’ll Meet Again“, “(There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover“, “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square“, and “There’ll Always Be an England“.
She remained popular after the war, appearing on radio and television in the United Kingdom and the United States and recording such hits as “Auf Wiederseh’n, Sweetheart” and her UK number-one single “My Son, My Son“.
Her 1952 recording of Auf Wiederseh’n, Sweetheart, which featured accompaniment by Soldiers and Airmen of HM Forces and the Johnny Johnston Singers, was the first song recorded by a foreign artist to make number one on the US Billboard charts. Vera Lynn’s last single, “I Love This Land“, was released to mark the end of the Falklands War.
In 2009, at the age of 92, Vera Lynn became the oldest living artist to top the UK Albums Chart with the compilation album We’ll Meet Again: The Very Best of Vera Lynn. In 2014, she released the collection Vera Lynn: National Treasure and in 2017, she released Vera Lynn 100, a compilation album of hits to commemorate her centenary—it was a No. 3 hit, making her the first centenarian performer to have a Top 10 album in the charts. By the time of her death in 2020, she had been active in the music industry for 96 years.
Vera Lynn, who lived in Ditchling, West Sussex, devoted much time and energy to charity work connected with veterans, disabled children and breast cancer. She was held in great affection by WW II veterans. In 2000, she was named the Briton who best exemplified the spirit of the 20th century.
Queen Victoria (1819 – 1901)
Picture Credit/Attribution: Queen Victoria, 1819–1901, by Alexandro Bassano, 1882. Glass copy negative, half-plate. Scanned from the book ‘The National Portrait Gallery History of the Kings and Queens of England’ by David Williamson, ISBN 1855142287, page 153. See here for the 1901 publication. National Portrait Gallery: NPG x95802
Alexandrina Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20th June 1837 until she died in 1901. Known as the Victorian era, her reign of 63 years and seven months was longer than any previous British monarch. It was a period of industrial, political, scientific, and military change within the United Kingdom and was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire. In 1876, the British Parliament voted to grant her the additional title of Empress of India.
Queen Victoria inherited the throne aged 18 after her father’s three elder brothers died without surviving legitimate issue. Though a constitutional monarch, Victoria privately attempted to influence government policy and ministerial appointments; publicly, she became a national icon who was identified with strict standards of personal morality.
Victoria married her first cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1840. Their children married into royal and noble families across the continent, earning Victoria the sobriquet “the grandmother of Europe“.
Sources and Further Reading
- https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/diversity-in-science/influential-british-women-science/ · https://www.vogue.co.uk/article/vogue-25-the-women-shaping-2018
Queen Boudica or Boudicca, also known as Boadicea or Boudicea, and in Welsh as Buddug, was the Queen of the British Iceni tribe who led an uprising against the conquering forces of the Roman Empire in AD 60 or 61. An estimated 70,000–80,000 Romans and Britons were killed in the three cities (St Albans, Colchester and London) by those following Boudica, many by torture. The Roman, Suetonius, regrouped his forces, possibly in the West Midlands; despite being heavily outnumbered, he decisively defeated the Britons. The crisis caused Nero to consider withdrawing all Roman forces from Britain, but Suetonius’s victory over Boudica confirmed Roman control of the province.
- Source: https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/diversity-in-science/influential-british-women-science/ ↑
- Sources: (i) Brock, Claire (2004). “Public Experiments”. History Workshop Journal. Oxford University Press. 58 (58): 306–312. doi:10.1093/hwj/58.1.306. JSTOR 25472768. S2CID 201783390 and (ii) Ogilvie, Marilyn Bailey (1986). Women in Science: Antiquity through the Nineteenth Century. MIT Press. pp. 97–98. ISBN 978-0-262-65038-0. ↑