Mary Anning, the fossil woman

22 September 2022

Join Tom Sharpe, formerly Curator of Palaeontology and Archives at the National Museum of Wales, and author of ‘The Fossil Woman: A life of Mary Anning’, to examine what we know of the life of this extraordinary woman.

It has been said that more has been written about Mary Anning, the fossil dealer of Lyme Regis, than about any other geologist, apart from Charles Darwin. But how much do we really know about her? How much is speculation? And how much is a myth that has developed through the uncritical telling and retelling of her tale over the course of two centuries? Are we seeing a new Anning myth in the making, thanks to a recent film? Separating the facts from the fiction about Mary Anning can be challenging, but her story is a remarkable tale in its own right. This talk will examine what we know of the life of this extraordinary woman, her famous – and less well-known – discoveries, and her part within the wider network of the developing science of palaeontology in the early 19th century, and will seek to dispel at least a few of the Mary myths.

  • N.B. This event has been postponed from its original date on 20 January due to the ongoing coronavirus situation

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Tom Sharpe

Tom Sharpe was formerly Curator of Palaeontology and Archives at the National Museum of Wales and taught geology in the lifelong learning departments of both Cardiff and Bristol universities. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society, the Royal Geographical Society and the Museums Association, and is a former Chair of the Geological Curators’ Group and History of Geology Group. He has long had an interest in the history of geology and has published on the work of the geologist’s Henry De la Beche and William Smith, and on the history of the geological exploration of Antarctica. He is the author of The Fossil Woman. A Life of Mary Anning, published by The Dovecote Press in November 2020 (paperback July 2021).

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