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Who is Mary Anning?

It's hard to believe that Mary Anning's name is not more globally known and celebrated. Especially when you consider her discoveries and groundbreaking work as an early pioneer of palaeontology. 

mary anning and her dog painting

A Pioneer of Palaeontology

Mary Anning unearthed creatures, now known as Marine Reptiles, that changed our views on the age of our planet and turned conventional thinking on its head.  Yet today, she is barely mentioned in most modern textbooks and is only mentioned in the curriculum as a non-mandatory topic of conversation for UK school children aged 11 to 12.

An Awe-inspiring Role Model

But what is truly remarkable about Anning and what many miss is that she is an awe-inspiring role model for children today. Anning did what she did from an uneducated, poor, working-class background. Self-taught and unflinching in her drive to understand and learn more about the fossils she dug from the cliffs. Dissecting squid and fish she bought from the local fisherman so she could understand more about the biology of the long-dead animals she found. Nothing got in her way, and Mary never gave up.

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Nearly Two Hundred Years After Her Death

Mary Anning was three things you didn't want to be in Victorian Britain. Poor, working-class and a woman. Because of gender and class, she was left out of our history books and struggled with poverty for most of her life. 

Nearly two hundred years after her death, books still fail to list her as one of the most significant scientists of our time.  Her name has been eradicated from the annals of history, and her achievements are unacknowledged and unknown because Anning was an outsider to polite society and the scientific communities of the time.

denise dutton sculptor

Always The Male Geologists

The influential Geological Society of London did not allow women to join as members or even allow them to attend meetings or lectures as guests.  Even though it was apparent, Mary knew more about the fossilised remains she discovered and the geology of Lyme Regis than any of the wealthy clients she collected for.  It was always the male geologists who published the scientific descriptions.  Often omitting her name from the specimens she found.

Fossils she discovered, displayed in museums worldwide, still show the names of the wealthy, educated men who bought them from her.  Her work was plagiarised then and continues to be to this today.  

denise dutton sculptor

It Must Have Been Soul-Destroying 

It must have been soul-destroying not to have been given the recognition she deserved. She was once recorded to have said: 'The world has used me ill ... these men of learning have sucked my brains and made a great deal of publishing works, of which I furnished the contents, while I derived none of the advantages.'

The only scientific writing of hers ever published in her lifetime appeared in the Magazine of Natural History in 1839, a letter Mary had sent to the magazine's editor challenging one of its claims. 

denise dutton sculptor

Towards The End Of Her Life

Toward the end of her life, Anning was awarded a small income from the British Association for the Advancement of Science and the Geological Society of London.  It was given in recognition of her contributions to science.  After she died of breast cancer aged forty-seven in 1847, the president of the Geological Society spoke of her in his annual address, even though it would take another fifty-seven years before the first women would be admitted to the organisation in 1904.

With your support, we hope to change this for Mary Anning and put her name at the forefront of education. We have raised a statue in her hometown of Lyme Regis. A tangible work of art that has given her a physical presence in the town but equally given the people of Lyme and the thousands of tourists that visit every year a focal point of remembrance and respect. Let's now put her back into the conversation and in our history books, where she rightfully belongs. Please support and follow us as we launch The Mary Anning Rocks Learning Legacy, so she is never forgotten again.

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