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Eleanor Ormerod (1828–1901) as an economic entomologist: ‘pioneer of purity even more than of Paris Green’

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 January 2009

J. F. McDiarmid Clark
St Hugh's College, Oxford.
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In 1924, Virginia Woolf wrote a short story based upon the life of Eleanor Ormerod. A wealthy spinster, Ormerod achieved notoriety in late nineteenth-century Britain as an economic entomologist. In 1904, Nature compared her to Caroline Herschel and Mary Somerville. In terms of recent scholarship devoted to the history of women in science, Ormerod's career differed markedly from that of her two predecessors. The emotional or intellectual support of a brother, husband, father, or male family relation made no considerable contribution to her commitment to the study of entomology. Furthermore, her life as an independent spinster offered no positive proof for Francis Power Cobbe's dictum: as she aged, Eleanor Ormerod showed no tendency to become a ‘women's rights woman’. She publicly accepted or internalized the dominant, masculine ideology of science; and by contemporary standards, she achieved success.

Research Article
Copyright © British Society for the History of Science 1992


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129 See, for example, Carrington, Edith, The Farmer and the Birds, London, 1898Google Scholar, which was published for the Humanitarian League; and idem, ‘The sparrow-hawk’, AF (10 1897), 4, 46.Google Scholar For a useful historical overview of the philosophical underpinnings of preservationism, see Passmore, John, Man's Responsibility For Nature, London, 1974, 140.Google Scholar

130 Egerton, Frank, ‘Changing concepts of the balance of nature’, The Quarterly Review of Biology (06 1973), 48, 322–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

131 Passmore, , op. cit. (129), 24.Google Scholar

132 Ormerod, Eleanor A., Report of Observations… During the Year 1883, With Methods of Prevention and Remedy, London, 1884, 42.Google Scholar

133 Ormerod, Eleanor A., Report of Observations… During the Year 1884, With Methods of Prevention and Remedy. Eighth Report, London, 1885, p. vi.Google Scholar

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135 Ormerod, Eleanor A., op. cit. (67), 627–9.Google Scholar

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Eleanor Ormerod (1828–1901) as an economic entomologist: ‘pioneer of purity even more than of Paris Green’
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