Brown Bag Lecture: “ ‘Such a Sister Became Such a Brother’: Lady Ranelagh’s Influence on Robert Boyle”

Brown Bag Lecture icon
Date: February 4, 2014
Time: 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.

315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Event Type: Open to the Public
Fee: Free
RSVP Online: No Registration Required

A talk by Michelle DiMeo

Often regarded as the “father of chemistry,” Robert Boyle has always held a prominent place in popular and academic history of science. However, while his contemporaries widely acknowledged the influence of his older sister, Katherine, later historiographies dropped her from the record. Boyle moved into his sister’s London home in 1668, and the two lived together for the rest of their lives, dying only one week apart in 1691. Though some historians have recently begun acknowledging that Lady Ranelagh must have had an intellectual influence on Boyle, it has not been possible to identify the extent of this until the recent location of over 100 of her lost manuscripts. This is the story of a lifelong intellectual partnership, where brother and sister shared medical remedies, promoted each other’s scientific ideas, and edited each other’s manuscripts. It is also an introduction to one of the most formidable female intellectuals in 17th-century England: Katherine Jones, Lady Ranelagh.

Michelle DiMeo is S. Gordon Castigliano Director of Digital Library Initiatives at the Historical Medical Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. She has published several essays and articles on early modern science and medicine, and with Sara Pennell she coedited Reading and Writing Recipe Books, 1550–1800 (Manchester University Press, 2013). Her current project is to complete an intellectual biography of Lady Ranelagh. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Warwick.

About Brown Bag Lectures

Brown Bag Lectures (BBLs) are a series of weekly informal talks on the history of chemistry or related subjects, including the history and social studies of science, technology, and medicine. Based on original research (sometimes still in progress), these talks are given by local scholars for an audience of CHF staff and fellows and interested members of the public.

For more information, please call 215.873.8289 or e-mail

Register for an event link

Brown Bag Lecture Series

Enjoy a bring-your-own brown-bag lunch while listening to CHF scholars share their research.

Need Meeting Space?

CHF’s state-of-the-art conference center is in Philadelphia’s beautiful historic district.

Fellowships at CHF

CHF’s scholars, who spend anywhere from one to nine months in residence, form a vital part of CHF’s intellectual life.

Support CHF

Help us preserve and share the history of chemistry and related sciences. Make a tax-deductible tax-deductible gift online.