Danielle Clode reviews 'Georgiana Molloy: The mind that shines' by Bernice Barry

Danielle Clode reviews 'Georgiana Molloy: The mind that shines' by Bernice Barry

Georgiana Molloy: The mind that shines

by Bernice Barry

Picador $39.99 pb, 336 pp, 9781743549148

By the end of the eighteenth-century, botany was one of the few sciences regarded as suitable for women. Carolus Linnaeus had infamously declared that his system of botanical taxonomy was so simple that even 'women themselves' could understand it. Botanical collection, identification, and cultivation extended the traditionally feminine occupations of flower arranging, gardening, and herbal lore, and were thought to bring order to the undisciplined female mind.

Women played vital roles in the popular communication of botany, in the education of the public, as collectors, cataloguers, and artists, but rarely as scientific authorities themselves. As botany and science became increasingly professionalised during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, our definition of science narrowed to focus on those scientific authors who, by virtue of their exclusive and tightly restricted access to formal education, employment, and membership of academic societies, were almost entirely male.

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Danielle Clode

Danielle Clode

Danielle Clode is the author of nine books of environmental history, including Voyages to the South Seas which won the Victorian Premier’s Award for Non-fiction in 2007. In 2014 she was the ABR Dahl Trust Fellow and her article ‘Seeing the Wood for the Trees’ appeared in the November 2014 issue of ABR.

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