Lady Ranelagh: The Incomparable Life of Robert Boyle’s Sister

Lunchtime Lectures
Friday, March 11, 2022
12:00 p.m. EST (UTC -5)

Who was Lady Ranelagh? Born in Ireland in 1615, Katherine Jones (nee Boyle)—later known as Lady Ranelagh—was the sister of Robert Boyle, a noted scientist who is considered the “father of chemistry.”

For centuries she was depicted as a maternal figure to her brother or as a patroness of the European correspondence network now known as the Hartlib Circle. However, neither depiction captures the depth of her knowledge, character, or influence.

Join the Institute’s Michelle DiMeo, author of Lady Ranelagh: The Incomparable Life of Robert Boyle’s Sister, as she discusses her book and the process of writing it. Based on more than 10 years of new archival research, this first biography of Lady Ranelagh offers a fuller portrait of one of the most respected and influential women in 17th-century Europe.

About the Speaker


Michelle DiMeo headshot

Courtesy of Michelle DiMeo

Michelle DiMeo is the Arnold Thackray Director of the Othmer Library at the Science History Institute and was responsible for the construction and launch of the Institute’s digital collections platform in her previous position as director of digital library initiatives. She is a historian of early modern science and medicine, as well as a librarian, who first fell in love with the Science History Institute when she was an Allington short-term research fellow here in 2014.

DiMeo’s book, Lady Ranelagh: The Incomparable Life of Robert Boyle’s Sister (University of Chicago Press, 2021), is part of the Institute’s Synthesis book series, which seeks to shed light on the history of chemistry, broadly construed, and its diverse roles in society.

About the Series

Our virtual Lunchtime Lecture Series takes a rigorous and entertaining approach to exploring topics for scholars and anyone interested in stories about the history of science, technology, and medicine. The talks help expand perceptions of the nature of science and how it’s done.