London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1820. Second edition, revised. The first edition was published in 1819. With twenty-three plates. Hinges cracked, but holding. Binding extremities lightly worn and rubbed. Leaves somewhat foxed and browned, very minor dampstaining to upper margins of a few gatherings, trivial offsetting from plates. Plates closely shaved at fore-edge, but with no loss. 2” closed tear to terminal blank. Contemporary ink signature to upper front flyleaf. A very good copy. Contemporary half calf over mottled boards. Octavo. . x, , 424 pp. Item #16584
Jane Haldimand Marcet (1769-1858) was the wife of physician Alexander Marcet (1770-1822), and a friend of Maria Edgeworth. At their home, she and her husband entertained some of the most distinguished scientists and thinkers of their time. She wrote Conversations on Chemistry, Intended More Especially for the Female Sex, one of the first elementary science textbooks. It was written after Marcet attended the lectures of Sir Humphry Davy at the Royal Institution. This was followed by Conversations on Political Economy (1816). As a result of her scientific and political publications, Marcet is recognized as an important figure in the history of women’s education. Her Conversations books are considered the “early nineteenth century’s best known introductory science texts for women and young persons” (The Feminist Companion to Literature in English, p. 713). Conversations of Natural Philosophy follows the format of Conversations in Chemistry and Conversations on Political Economy, in which characters Mrs. B and her charges Caroline and Emily explore various concepts of natural philosophy through dialogue. The topics discussed include the general properties of bodies (inertia, attraction, density, etc.), the attraction of gravity, the laws of motion, compound motion, mechanical powers, astronomy, refraction and colors, and the structure of the eye and optical instruments.