Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Monday, January 10, 2011

She Sells Sea Shells by the Sea Shore



My parents dragged me to the dinosaur exhibit at our local science museum over the weekend.

It was cute and informative, but the most interesting aspect was the mention of one woman in particular: Mary Anning.

I was so mesmerized, I decided to share with you a little history lesson on a very fabulous woman. She wasn't a fashionista. She wasn't royalty. She wasn't even that attractive. She was just a woman who was years before her time.

Mary Anning was the "the greatest fossilist the world ever knew."

Before your eyes glaze over and you skim over this post, humor me and read on.

Born into wretched poverty in 1799, Mary didn't stand a chance. Her life was already mapped out to be insignificant, until a discovery as a child changed her life forever.

When she was 12, Mary and her brother were climbing the rocky cliffs by their home, Lyme Regis, in England, when they came across the complete skeleton of an Icthyosaur. Mary pieced the entire dinosaur skeleton together by herself and became known as one of the world's most famous palaeontologists.



Throughout her teens, Mary made many more discoveries along the coast of her home. She would go on to find the first two Plesiosaur skeletons ever found, the first Pterosaur skeleton, and very important fish fossils.

Most of her fossils were sold to institutions and private collectors, and although it brought in funds, it wasn't the astronomical number you would think. Back then, dinosaur fossils were still relatively new. You couldn't find anyone who was willing to fork over millions of dollars for a T-Rex skeleton. Despite her world-wide fame, her family was still desperately poor and relied on charity to get by.

Also, her accomplishments were sullied by the male British elite. As a working class woman, Mary was not allowed to be a member of the Geological Society of London. Although she knew more about fossils than any other scientist at the time, her findings were always published by male geologists who often did not give her credit. She grew resentful because of this treatment.

Her unhappiness could be found in a letter: "The world has used me so unkindly, I fear it has made me suspicious of everyone."



It wasn't until she was diagnosed with breast cancer that she finally started getting the recognition she deserved.

She received an annuity from the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1838. The Geological Society of London collected a stipend for her and she was named the first Honorary Member of the new Dorset County Museum, one year before her death from breast cancer at age 47. Her obituary was published in the Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society--an organization that would not admit women until 1904.

Her legend lives on not only in scientific journals and history books, but also in our culture.

The tongue twister, "She sells sea shells by the seashore," was written about Mary.



Not bad for a penniless girl who liked to play in the dirt.

Let that be your inspiration.

50 comments:

ching said...

wow. i will never look 'She sells sea shells by the seashore' ever again. Mary finally got the recognition she deserved. i hope it doesn't have to reach to a point such as breast cancer but it did. darn those men!

JUST ME said...

That sister was as good as any mister...and continues to help all of us sistahs remember that truth every day. ;)

Vikki said...

Wow Jennifer, thank you for this history lesson! I actually had no idea who this lady was, but now I am really fascinated by her!

xxx
Vikki

http://stylometre.blogspot.com

Tashrin said...

WOW...wow....wow. Thank you so much for sharing this. I never knew that saying was related to a person let alone to such a significant woman in history. She was a dreamer indeed and you have just made my day all the more brighter by sharing this with us.

Happy Monday.

Look forward to hearing from you

Love

Tashrin from Canada

Couture Carrie said...

Very cool bio, darling!

xoxox,
CC

Vanilla said...

Wow thanks for sharing this, I had no idea :)

Love, Vanilla

http://vanillaheartsstyle.blogspot.com/

Tights Lover said...

That is very inspiring. It's an impressive story and not one I was familiar with. I think when I was 12 I was faking sick so I could stay home and watch baseball...and look what she was doing.

It's sad that she had to get sick and, ultimately, die before gaining any recognition. Society has changed little in that regard in the years since. It seems like there are so many people that we fail to appreciate until they pass.

Jennifer said...

Not bad at all! Thanks for the history lesson, doll!

Happy monday <3

xoXOxo
Jenn @ Peas & Crayons

Mouthwash said...

Thank you for this! There is a very similar story about a female scientist that the Nazi's tried to squash because she was 1. female, 2. Jewish.

Such an inspiring story Jenn! Thank you!

Amber
Ambersmouthwash

daisychain said...

This is such a brilliant post xox

David L Macaulay said...

Interesting post, Jennifer. I didn't know that about the tongue twister. When I was at school we'd be taken to Lyme Regis to dig out fossils and it was amazing how many you'd find. The pic is of Lulwoth Cove which almost perfectly circular.

best David

http://britsintheus23.blogspot.com/

btd. said...

Wow, that's amazing. Just to stumble upon that. It's sad that it took breast cancer to her the recognition though. What an inspiration.

Josie said...

This is so incredibly inspiring, my dear. Love it.
xo Josie
http://winksmilestyle.blogspot.com

Fashion Court said...

this was seriously an awesome history lesson! i feel ashamed that i never knew about her before

Sherin said...

Definitely really inspirational!! But also a sad story. I can imagine it being really hard to be both a woman and poor back then. At least she eventually got the recognition she deserved.

Lightning Bug's Butt said...

Amazing tidbit of history!

Chic Geek said...

This is actually really interesting!

Venus In Virgo said...

Thanks for sharing all that history. I remember trying to say you title post when I was younger, fun tongue twister. Sounds like you had a fun and educational time. XOXO

Jenn said...

What a great story! I know a little girl who needs to read this. She wants to be a Paleontologist when she grows up and I'm sure this will be super inspiring :)

Anonymous said...

Wow really informative! And on another note, her dog looks exactly like mine. Papillons like seashells apparently. Btw its Julie I'm too lazy to sign in on ny phone.

Alicia said...

I loved this! I'm a huge history nerd and love stories like this. My mom's side of the family owns a farm in kansas where a TON of fossils can be found in the limestone and when Jurassic Park came out I was determined to be a paleontologist. I think I got 2 or 3 books about dinosaurs, realized all of their names were really hard to remember and gave up. I'm apparently no Mary!

Christopher said...

What a wonderful story. Well except for the whole dying of cancer part that was pretty sad. Sounds like one hell of a woman.

Taj Acosta said...

I think we had an exhibit like that here and I wanted to go so bad! Love the first pic! xo

Dirty Girl Gardening said...

A love of champagne, cupcakes, and we have the same name! Did we just become best friends?! :)

Cheers, Jenn

indianmakeupways said...

I didn't know that there was this much history behind the tongue twister!!! mary sure was a great woman,its sad that she got the fame she deserved so very late in her life!!!

Dahl said...

She sounds like a really special person, and I'm outraged at the sexism that went on in England back then. I'm glad though, that she received some recognition, and her accomplishments were amazing! And the way you wrote this post made it totally interesting, I wasn't even bored when you started mentioning fossils and dinosaurs. http://thearcenciel.blogspot.com/

Kellie W. said...

I can't believe I've never heard of this woman before! She sounds absolutely amazing. It's a shame that it took something so tragic for her to get the recognition she deserved, but still, what an inspiration.

Lady Sophia's Lover said...

You arise beauteous in the horizon of the heavens
Oh living Aten who creates life.
When you shine forth in the Eastern horizon you fill every land with your beauty.
You are so beautiful: you are great; gleaming and high over every land.
Your rays embrace the lands and all you have created;
You are Re and reach out to all your creations, and hold them for your beloved Son.
You are afar, but your rays touch the earth;
Men see you, but know not your ways.

Thanks...sweet sugar!

Vintage Vixen said...

I learn something new all the time. That was a fascinating post, Jen, You write so well,.xxx

Julia, the Thanksgiving Girl said...

This kind of made me want to go visit a museum or two. Reminds me that I've actually been thinking of going back to our main historical msueum ere since it's been more than 5 years since my last visit, humm...

Imogen said...

Fabulous post and very interesting. She certainly deserves a lot of recognition and how unfair that she didn't receive that for a long time. I always think it's interesting to look at how famous or accomplished people started out especially those from very humble beginnings.

Cafe Fashionista said...

That quote..."The world has used me so unkindly, I fear it has made me suspicious of everyone." It's so easy to relate to it; though it makes you feel for her. :(

Audrey Allure said...

Wow, truly inspiring. I also had no idea that tongue twister was written about her. Interesting!

Giselle said...

Great history lessons, and very insightful.
~Giselle
http://www.machinewashwarm.blogspot.com

Missy said...

wow thats really interesting!

Missy
Enter my £50 giveaway!
http://thefashionfusion.blogspot.com

tanvii.com said...

Had no clue! :) But I do not think I wld have gone with my parents. Brownie points for you on that! :)

Fashion Cappuccino said...

I read the whole story and I didn't know about about her until now! What an inspiration! I can't believe she was treated back then; that was cruel. I completely sympathize the way she felt because when you were left being isolated, unappreciated and treated unfairly, you grew weary of people in general. Thank you for sharing her remarkable story! xoxoxoxo

Savvy Gal said...

thanks for the post. :)

De Vero said...

Great that you shared this history in this post!

http://de-vero.blogspot.com

Rania Kelesidou said...

It's a very nice story,didn't know it either so thanks for sharing dear!And thank you for stopping by at my blog,keep in touch!!

Kat said...

nice post!! thanks for your lovely comment!!

katslovefashion.blogspot.com

Mary said...

Thank you,Jennifer,for this interesting post!
And thanks for sharing the Mary's history
xoxo Mary
fashionteaat5.blogspot.com

Black Adder said...

wow fascinating!
great post

http://blackadderfashion.blogspot.com/

Cheryl: Oh to Be a Muse said...

oh i love museums and exhibits. if you ever go to arizona then DON'T stop at "The Thing"...it's some sort of lame exhibition.

http://ohtobeamuse.com

Natalie Suarez said...

cute! love it :)

natalieoffduty.blogspot.com

a woman's right to shoes said...

Wow, this was amazing. Thank you for sharing this. I really like your blog, and I'm a follower now. And thank you for your sweet comment on my blog =)

Monica said...

hi dear!! Thanks for your comment on my blog, I like yours! What do you think about following each other?

www.fantasiedifolletto.com

Mony

OceanDreams said...

i learned so much and i am in awe! xo!

OceanDreams said...

Her unhappiness could be found in a letter: "The world has used me so unkindly, I fear it has made me suspicious of everyone." love this quote by the way - it is a bit of how i feel lately.

Melanie's Randomness said...

Huh well would you look at that. I never knew ANY of that. Wow that was pretty cool! Watch all be on jeporady or something and this will come up!! =P

Melanie's Randomness