In the two decades since Margaret Rossiter’s first volume on Women Scientists in America (1), there has been a steady series of books which have investigated the place of women in science, seeking to discover if and where they existed, the nature of their of their contribution and the reasons why for so often and so long there has been a perceived disjuncture
The Industrial Revolution has traditionally been seen as a transformation in the technological basis of production and in the social arrangements surrounding it. On the other hand, the Scientific Revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries was originally conceived as a purely intellectual transition, a shift in mentalities or worldviews.
This volume arrives with high praise. The book ‘[d]eserves to become another classic’, opines Peter Burke at the top of the front cover. It ‘[c]ompletely overhauls our view’, observes Ronald Hutton somewhat further down. The work itself is not shy of ambition either. Both the title—The Decline of Magic—and the subtitle—Britain in the Enlightenment—promise sweeping panoramas.
The case of Mary Toft—the woman who gave birth to rabbits in 1726—has an enduring appeal. I remember the first time I encountered her as a final year undergraduate, both fascinated and appalled by the details of the case.
If it is hard to write a book review, then it is much harder to make a book. Anthony Grafton's latest monograph, Inky Fingers, puts the difficulties of labour at the centre of this engaging study of book production in early modern Europe and North America (the latter included despite the expected limitations of the subtitle).
Englishmen have always travelled. According to French Abbé Le Blanc, they travelled more than other people of Europe because `they look upon their isle as a sort of prison; and the first use they make of their liberty is to get out of it'.(1) For young elite males who travelled to France and Italy for up to five years, the Grand Tour was, most historians agree, ‘intended to provide the final ed