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Title: The Herschels : a scientific family in training
Author: Winterburn, Emily Jane
ISNI:       0000 0004 2702 474X
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2011
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This is a study of the Herschel family over three generations. The focus is on their education, and specifically on what that tells us about the hopes and aspirations each generation had for itself and its off spring. To what extent did successful men and women of science want their children to follow in their footsteps? Did this ambition vary from generation to generation? Were the Herschels typical among their scientific peers or were they an anomaly? In chapter one I examine the life of William Herschel arguing that his transition from music to astronomy was gradual and motivated by a desire for social mobility. In chapter two I consider the life of Caroline Herschel to show how different her experience of education was to that of her brother and why her role in astronomy should be judged with that in mind. In chapter three I examine the childhood education of John Herschel, arguing that his early successes in mathematics can best be understood with reference to his father's ambition for him and carefully designed curriculum. In chapter four I then considered how John modified his education as an adult. I argue that he deliberately distanced himself from his father's work to build an independent reputation and following friends and mentors set out to present science as part of what makes us civilised. In chapter five I introduce John's wife, Margaret Brodie Stewart. I argue that her religious background informed her views on education, and that John looked to her to create a happier home life than he had experienced himself. Finally, in chapter six, I examine the education John and Margaret provided for their 12 children. I argue that science, in the education of this generation, was presented first as a hobby and only later as a possible career.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral