Professor Howard Falcon-Lang
September 2017 evening lecture
Marie Stopes: Sex, Lies and Fossil Plants
Marie Stopes (1880–1958) was one of the most flamboyant and influential figures of the early twentieth century. In addition to her well-known work on birth control, she wrote a controversial sex manual for women, and produced numerous novels, plays and works of poetry. She is also remembered as a passionate advocate of eugenics, courting the architects of the Third Reich, and was identified, in some circles, as a threat to empire and country. But geology, and specifically palaeobotany, was her first love and indeed her life’s most enduring passion. Although Stopes’s life has been thoroughly dissected in four biographies, her geological career has been overshadowed by her later work. This is unfortunate, because she made major contributions to palaeobotany and coal research, and her scientific career, like her humanitarian endeavours, makes fascinating reading.