Brigitte Stenhouse

  • The mathematical work of Mary Somerville 
  • Gender and domesticity in the making of mathematical careers
  • Circulation of mathematical knowledge

My doctoral research explored how Mary Somerville – as an upper-class woman – accessed mathematical knowledge and communities, and what it meant for her to be described as a mathematician. I am currently working on a joint project with David Dunning, looking at collaborative couples in mathematics in order to understand the roles of gender and domesticity in the making of mathematical careers.

Featured Publication

Mary Somerville's early contributions to the circulation of differential calculus, Historia Mathematica, Volume 51, May 2020, Pages 1-25

In 1831, with the publication of her translation of Laplace's Mécanique Céleste, Mary Somerville (1780–1872) solidified her reputation as a highly proficient mathematician. To shed light on her preliminary studies, we here examine Somerville's solutions to questions posed in the New Series of the Mathematical Repository alongside contemporary correspondence with mathematicians John and William Wallace. Together, these demonstrate her active engagement in the circulation of the differential calculus twenty years earlier than previously appreciated.


I currently teach:

Part B History of Mathematics (Mathematical Institute)

In the Media


BBC World Service - The Forum, Mary Somerville: The queen of 19th-Century science. Listen here. November 2021


Relatively Prime Podcast, The Somervilles. Listen here. March 2020

Oxford Sparks Podcast, How did Mary Somerville get on the Scottish £10 note? Listen here. February 2018


Antiques Road Trip, BBC1, The story of the Queen of 19th-century Science. Series 15, Ep 19. First broadcast October, 2017