Arabella Buckley

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Arabella Burton Buckley (24 October 1840 – 9 February 1929)[1] was a writer and science educator.[2]


Buckley was born in Brighton, England.[1][3] Her brother was Henry Buckley, 1st Baron Wrenbury. At 24 she went to work as secretary to Charles Lyell, and worked for him until his death in 1875. Charles Darwin wrote to her to commiserate with her on Lyell's death. Then she began lecturing and writing on science.

Being Charles Lyell's assistant and a female put her in good standing to educate the youth. One of Buckley's earlier pieces, The Fairy-Land of Science, puts her views of science in a children's book setting, much like a mother educating her child. Her work was labeled as lectures rather than chapters mirroring how she would teach the youth. One of her lectures, The Two Great Sculptors - Water and Ice, emphasizes how water and ice create hills, crevasses and valleys much like a sculptor will create a statue using a chisel. It also describes how water always needs somewhere to go and often takes part of the land with it, causing cliffs to fall apart leaving faults and intrusions behind.[4] She saw no contradiction in using fancy to present fact, writing of the natural world: "Can any magic tale be more marvelous, or any thought grander, or more sublime than this?"[5]

Buckley married at the age of 44, but continued publishing under her maiden name. One of the later editions of Eyes and No Eyes gives her married name (Mrs Fisher). She also edited two other publications, Mary Somerville's Connexion of the Physical Sciences (1877) and Heinrich Leutemann's Animals from Life (1887). Her books were translated into Japanese, Polish and Swedish in her own lifetime.

During Buckley's time male scientists often had female assistants and included some of their findings in the lead scientists work. The women themselves generally would not be labelled scientists thus not receiving any acknowledgement.[6]

Buckley died 9 February 1929 in Devon, England.[1]



  1. ^ a b c "Buckley, Arabella B. (Arabella Burton), 1840–1929". Library of Congress Authorities. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  2. ^ "FISHER, Mrs. Arabella B." Who's Who. Vol. 59. 1907. p. 599.
  3. ^ "Arabella B. Buckley: Popularizer of science and writer". Oxford Index. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  4. ^ Buckley, Arabella (1880). The Fairy-Land of Science. London. pp. 99–123 – via Open Edition.
  5. ^ Reisert, Sarah (2016). "The Magic of It All: To explain their world, Victorians married the natural with the supernatural". Distillations. 2 (1): 44–45. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  6. ^ Burek, C. V.; Higgs, B., eds. (2007). "The Role Of Women In The History And Development Of Geology: An Introduction". Special Publications. Geological Society of London. pp. 1–8. doi:10.1144/SP281.1. Retrieved 26 April 2017.

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