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Discoveries in Light and Vision
New York: G. & C. Carvill, 1836. First Edition. Hard Cover. Very Good. 16mo., pp. xi + blank + [ff 3] + [2]-300 + [301] errata leaf; publisher's drab pebbled cloth; morocco spine label gilt; light rubbing to edges; scattered foxing throughout; contemporary ink ownership signature to front pastedown; still very good. First edition of quite a scarce book, especially in trade. The first American work on the subject of psycho-physics, and one of the earliest American books dealing with sight and the eye. Due to the fact that she was a woman writing in a field totally dominated by men, Mary Griffith';s name does not appear on the title page. Nevertheless, she was one of a very few women to publish scientific treatises at the time. Griffith read widely in the scientific literature of the era, and conducted a variety of experiments in 'horticulture, natural history, economic entomology, the earth sciences, epidemiology, and optics'' Her papers and stories appeared in a number of scientific and literary journals, and she became known for her keen observations and astute questions. According to one biographical sketch, Griffith';s unique approach to science 'can be seen as a coherent part of a complex fabric of progressivist, strongly feminist beliefs.' Apart from the present volume, Griffith (1772-1846) published three other books, all works of fiction, though these sometimes include sections or passages that relate to her scientific interests, such as light, soil, and phrenology. Her best known work is a story entitled 'Three Hundred Years Hence' which appeared in the collection Camperdown, or, News from Our Neighborhood (1836). The story is 'credited as the first known utopia by a woman writing in the United States' (Kessler, Daring to Dream: Utopian Fiction by United States Women before 1950, p. xxi). Following the death of her wealthy merchant husband in 1815, Mary Griffith purchased an estate ('Charlieshope') in Franklin Township, New Jersey to which she retired to pursue her interests in science and literature. She died in Dutchess County, New York in 1846. See Source Book of Ophthalmology 917; "Introduction" Discoveries in Light and Vision, Classics of Ophthalmology, p. 3. See also her Wikipedia entry online.
      [Bookseller: Kuenzig Books, ABAA/ILAB]
Last Found On: 2013-07-23           Check availability:      Biblio    

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