Lady Ranelagh

The Incomparable Life of Robert Boyle’s Sister

Michelle DiMeo

Lady Ranelagh

Michelle DiMeo

296 pages | 10 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2020
Cloth $45.00 ISBN: 9780226731605 Will Publish November 2020
E-book $45.00 ISBN: 9780226731742 Will Publish November 2020
For centuries, historians have speculated about the life of Katherine Jones, Lady Ranelagh. Dominant depictions show her either as a maternal figure to her younger brother Robert Boyle, one of the most significant scientists of his day, or as a patroness of the European correspondence network now known as the Hartlib circle—but neither portrait captures the depth of her intellect nor the range of her knowledge and influence.
 
Philosophers, mathematicians, politicians, and religious authorities sought her opinion on everything from decimalizing the currency to producing Hebrew grammars. She practiced medicine alongside distinguished male physicians, treating some of the most elite patients in London. Her medical recipes, political commentaries, and testimony concerning the philosophers’ stone gained international circulation. She was an important influence on Boyle and a self-standing historical figure in her own right.
 
Drawing from a wealth of new archival sources, Michelle DiMeo fills out Lady Ranelagh’s legacy in the context of a historically sensitive and nuanced interpretation of gender, science, and religion. The book reveals how one elite seventeenth-century woman managed to gain the respect of diverse contemporaries, effect social change, and shape contemporary science.
Contents
List of Illustrations

Note on Conventions

Introduction

Chapter 1: Birth, Childhood, and Marriage (1615–42)

Chapter 2: Early Days in the Hartlib Circle (1642–48)

Chapter 3: Formative Years in Natural Philosophy and Medicine (1649–56)

Chapter 4: Return to Ireland (1656–59)

Chapter 5: Death of the Hartlib Circle and Birth of the Royal Society (1658–67)

Chapter 6: Plague, Providence, and Medical Practice (1665–67)

Chapter 7: Robert Boyle Moves In (1668–90)

Conclusion: Death and Legacy

Appendix: Boyle Family Genealogy

Acknowledgments

Notes

Bibliography

Index
 
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