Janet Browne

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Janet Browne
Janet Browne, HSS 2008.jpg
English: Historian of science Janet Browne, introducing Steven Shapin before his Distinguished Lecture at the 2008 History of Science Society meeting
Born (1950-03-30) 30 March 1950 (age 68)
Residence United States of America
Alma mater Trinity College, Dublin
Imperial College, London
Scientific career
Fields Historian of Science
Institutions Harvard

Elizabeth Janet Browne (née Bell, born 30 March 1950) is a British historian of science, known especially for her work on the history of 19th-century biology. She taught at the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, University College, London, before returning to Harvard. She is currently Aramont Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University.[1]


Browne is the daughter of Douglas Bell CBE (1905–1993) and his wife Betty Bell.[2] She married Nicholas Browne in 1972; they have two daughters.

Browne gained a BA degree from Trinity College, Dublin in 1972 and from Imperial College, London an MSc (1973) and PhD (1978) on the history of science.[3] She was a research fellow at Harvard University.[4] She received an honorary Doctor in Science (Sc. D) degree from Trinity College, Dublin in 2009 in recognition of her contribution to the biographical knowledge of Charles Darwin.[5]

After working as an associate editor on the University of Cambridge Library project to collect, edit, and publish the correspondence of Charles Darwin, she wrote a two-volume biography of the naturalist: Charles Darwin: Voyaging (1995), on his youth and years on the Beagle, and Charles Darwin: The Power of Place (2002), covering the years after the publication of his theory of evolution. The latter book has received acclaim for its innovative interpretation of the role of Darwin's correspondence in the formation of his scientific theory and recruitment of scientific support. In 2004, this volume won the History of Science Society's Pfizer Prize, the Society's highest honor awarded to individual works of scholarship.[6] In 2003, it also won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Biography.

Browne currently serves as the Aramont Professor in the History of Science at Harvard University. She specializes in life sciences, natural history, and evolutionary biology from the 17th to the 20th century.


The following is a selection of Browne's publications, chosen primarily by convenience from internet searches, but also to indicate the timespan over which she has published.


  1. ^ Browne, Janet (2010), "Making Darwin: Biography and the Changing Representations of Charles Darwin", Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 40 (3): 347–373, doi:10.1162/jinh.2010.40.3.347 
  2. ^ Who Was Who, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 1920–2016; online edn, Oxford University Press, 2014. "BELL, George Douglas Hutton". A&C Black. Retrieved January 4, 2017. 
  3. ^ Bradt, Steve (June 1, 2006). "Janet Browne named professor of the history of science at Harvard". Harvard Gazette. Archived from the original on May 17, 2008. 
  4. ^ Browne, Janet (1996). Voyaging. Princeton University Press (Alfred A. Knopf). pp. cover. ISBN 0-691-02606-8. 
  5. ^ "Nobel Prize winner in Economics, Professor Amartya Sen and Artist Patrick Scott Among Recipients of Honorary Degrees". Press Release, Trinity College Dublin. July 13, 2009. Archived from the original on July 28, 2009. 
  6. ^ http://www.hssonline.org/meeting/program/2004_Prize_Winners.htm#Pfizer

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