March 2019 | Nate Pedersen

A Hunger of the Mind: Four Centuries of Women and Science

British booksellers Deborah Coltham and Laura Massey (a previous entry in our Bright Young Booksellers series) have collaborated on a milestone rare book catalogue issued last week: A Hunger of the Mind: Four Centuries of Women and Science. The catalogue highlights women's connections with STEM fields over four centuries, containing high-points by such luminaries as Marie Curie, Jane Goodall, and Rachel Carson, as well as a wide variety of selections from lesser-known women who weren't households names but made important contributions to their field. Popular science writers, eductators, translators, entrepreneurs, explorers, and activists round out the catalogue.

The catalogue's title is from a quotation by astronomer Maria Mitchell (19th c): "We have a hunger of the mind which asks for knowledge of all around us, and the more we gain, the more is our desire; the more we see, the more we are capable of seeing."

We love how well this mirrors the theme of the catalogue, showing that the same sentiments which drive male scientists - curiosity and wonder - apply equally to women, said Coltham in a press release.

Our goal for this catalogue is to show that women have always been involved in scientific enterprises, often despite great obstacles, and this hidden history is now being uncovered by pioneering historians, librarians, and book collectors, continued Coltham.

Massey added, 

The history of science is frequently presented as a story of men and a handful of really remarkable women. That's simply not the case, as this catalogue demonstrates. Even when women weren't allowed into the ranks of professional researchers, they found other ways to participate, for instance by writing popular science books or collecting specimens.

The catalogue is currently available as a PDF on both booksellers' websites, (visit Coltham here and Massey here), with paper copies to be issued in the coming weeks