Margaret Gatty

Margaret Gatty (nee Scott) was born in 1809. Her father had been Admiral Nelson's Chaplain and indeed was present at the battle of Trafalgar - Nelson dying in his arms.

She was a remarkable woman, in many ways ahead of her times. She was a prolific author of children's stories but also wrote a number of scientific works. In all she published some 24 volumes between 1842 and 1872 with the majority being produced after 1855.

Her scientific studies and publishing earned her the respect of professionals in a number of fields. Her crowning work was the two volume History of British Seaweeds, which appeared in 1863.  This was to have such a profound effect on the subject,  that the Scottish Marine Biological Association were using Mrs. Gatty's book nearly  seventy years after its original publication. Two learned friends named newly discovered species  after her. One was an Australian alga and the other a type of marine worm. To be treated as an equal by men of science gave her a pleasure as great as any of her achievements in the literary world.

Margaret Gatty

In 1855 the first series of Parables from Nature appeared. This combined her love of science and nature and her desire to impart knowledge to children. The Parables became a classic of children's literature, but like many works was not originally a success in terms of acceptance or sales.

In 1866 she was asked to edit a new magazine for children. This came at a time when she was under great strain but it meant a regular salary and that she could now write contributions as and when she felt up to it. Aunt Judy's Magazine promised 'Parents need not fear an overflowing of amusement. They will find in another place our Memoranda or things to be remembered in each month - and these will comprise facts and anecdotes, historical,  biographical, or otherwise deserving a niche in the brain-temple of the young.' Publication lasted after her death and was to continue for some twenty years. By 1868 enough money had been made to pay for 'Aunt Judy's cot' at Great Ormond Street Hospital for children.

She died, after a long illness, on October 4th 1873. The memorial tablet in Ecclesfield Church was raised by a public subscription by more than a thousand children 'as a token of love and gratitude for the many books she wrote for them.'

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