In 1787, Caroline Herschel became the first woman in Britain to receive a professional salary for scientific work, awarded to her by King George III in recognition of her reputation as an astronomer and ‘comet hunter’.
Despite a few notable exceptions, though, it was generally not considered appropriate for women to be active investigators in a laboratory setting. However, their contributions behind the scenes were known and the presence of women at public lectures was noted and encouraged.
Mary Shelley was alive at a time of new opportunities for women in terms of education. Despite being born into a scandalous family set-up on a very restricted income, Mary had an enviable, though unconventional, childhood when it came to education and intellectual stimulation. Her childhood was filled with books and spent in the company of writers, artists, scientists and philosophers. It was no surprise, and was perhaps even expected, that Mary would become a writer. What no one could have predicted was that she would produce a creature like Frankenstein’s monster.
Chapter 1 has been more of general history of science and thoughts prevalent in Shelley's time, which I thought was a good introduction to the book.
As with A is for Arsenic, I really like Harkup's style of writing. And of course, there are footnotes and references to look up for further reading.