The Fossil Woman – A Life of Mary Anning
Product of the Week: The Fossil Woman – A Life of Mary Anning
This is a truly wonderful book that covers so much ground and is fascinating on many different levels. Whether you are interested in the fossils of the Jurassic Coast, the social history of early 19th Century rural England, or just how a poor, barely educated young girl could rise to become one of the greatest and most respected palaeontologists in the World, then this book is for you.
Tom Sharpe’s writing style is immensely readable, and he skilfully paints pictures that beautifully describe the life of Mary Anning, a life that must have felt to Mary like an endless series of insurmountable challenges. There is a lot of myth and misinformation surrounding Mary Anning’s life – both accidental and invented – and the author manages to cut through the layers of fake news to reveal the person and her life. When the truth is unavailable, he neither sensationalises nor guesses, instead referencing an immense wealth of archive material to provide the reader with the most likely set of circumstances or turn of events.
I’ve been lucky enough to meet Tom when he did a talk on Mary Anning at Dorset Museum in 2022, but you don’t need to meet him to feel the enthusiasm and knowledge he has for this subject, just read this book.