Northeastern Section - 53rd Annual Meeting - 2018

Paper No. 45-3
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


LARSEN, Kristine, Geological Sciences, Central Connecticut State University, 1615 Stanley St, New Britain, CT 06050

Grace Anne Milne accompanied her famous maternal uncle, botanist and paleontologist Dr. Hugh Falconer, on a number of his scientific expeditions, acting as his assistant and secretary, and also making sketches of geological sections and fossils. The result of this opportunity was not merely a heightened understanding of geology and experience in field work for Grace, but the chance to meet many of the famous geologists of the day, including Charles Lyell. After Hugh’s death, she married Joseph Prestwich, wine merchant, amateur geologist, and then President of the Geological Society of London, and encouraged him to turn to science full-time, leading to his appointment as a professor of geology at Oxford. Along with penning several novels, she wrote a series of geology-based articles for two magazines catering to the middle classes, Every Girl’s Magazine and the more religious Good Words. Among these was a series of six chapters on geology serialized in the former (1880-1). Lady Prestwich also wrote popularized accounts of at least two of her husband’s technical papers. Her 1879 article “Lochaber and the Parallel Roads” in Good Words reviews her personal experiences visiting these glacial structures with her husband in 1878, and summarizes his technical article “On the Origin of the Parallel Roads of Lochaber, and Their Bearing on Other Phenomena of the Glacial Period,” which appeared in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Similarly her 1881 article in Good Words entitled “Channel Tunnels and Channel Bridges” summarizes her husband’s paper on the same topic, On the Geological Conditions Affecting the Construction of a Tunnel between England and France, originally presented to the Institution of Civil Engineers. While Lady Prestwich’s original popular level writings are certainly important in their own right, her two popularizations of her husband’s work are particularly worthy of analysis, as they illustrate not only her skill at translating scientific papers for a popular audience, but her personal insight into the late 19th century politics of competing hypotheses and scientific models.