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Bringing chemistry out of the kitchen

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f5008 (Published 13 August 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f5008
  1. Wendy Moore, freelance writer and author, London
  1. wendymoore{at}ntlworld.com

Chemistry was a vital female accomplishment in the Enlightenment—but it usually stayed in the kitchen. The renowned classicist Elizabeth Carter translated works from Latin and Greek but her friend Samuel Johnson was quick to point out that she could also make a pudding. Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze Lavoisier (1758-1836) was almost unique in managing to escape the kitchen for the laboratory. She became her husband’s lifelong collaborator in transforming chemistry into a science, ultimately leading to medical developments in diagnosis and treatment—although friends noted she could still lay on a passable afternoon tea.

Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze was born to wealthy parents in the …

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