Friday 6 October 2023, 6.30 pm at Dynamic Earth

Mary Anning and her Sea-Dragons

Public Lecture by Tom Sharpe

Mary Anning was a pioneering fossil collector and dealer who lived and worked in the small town of Lyme Regis on the south coast of England during the first half of the 19th century. It was an unusual occupation, especially for a woman. Despite her working class origins, but intellectually gifted, by her late 20s Mary Anning had gained international fame for her remarkable discoveries in the early Jurassic rocks of the Dorset coast. Amongst these were the first ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs to be scientifically described. These strange ‘sea-dragons’, some first exhibited in Edinburgh, captured the imaginations of both the public and the gentleman-geologists who dominated the new science and flocked to Lyme Regis to seek her out. The list of visitors to her Lyme Regis shop reads like a Who’s Who of the geological community of the time.

Her letters show that Mary Anning was more than a mere fossil seller and that she can be considered the first professional palaeontologist. However, as a woman she was excluded from the formal scientific discussions of her discoveries at the Geological Society of London. Today, she is better known than most of her male geological contemporaries.

Tom Sharpe is a geologist and historian of geology, and author of The Fossil Woman A Life of Mary Anning published by The Dovecote Press in 2020. Following his talk, Tom will be joined by palaeontologists Dr Katie Strang and Dr Elsa Panciroli to answer questions and discuss Mary Anning’s legacy and their personal journeys into palaeontology.

The lecture celebrates UNESCO International Geodiversity Day: a worldwide celebration, bringing people together on 6th October each year, to promote all the many aspects of geodiversity.

Booking essential – tickets £5, free for EGS Members, students and young people.

Book now –

Please note that due to the format of the event, it is not possible to arrange a live broadcast or a recording.

Tom’s book, The Fossil Woman – a Life of Mary Anning is available from our online book shop, at a discount price of £12 for EGS Members – order today.