About Mary Boole (Everest)
Mary Everest Boole (1832, Wickwar, Gloucestershire – 1916) was a self-taught mathematician who is best known as an author of didactic works on mathematics, such as Philosophy and Fun of Algebra, and as the wife of fellow mathematician George Boole. Her progressive ideas on education, as expounded in The Preparation of the Child for Science, included encouraging children to explore mathematics through playful activities such as 'curve stitching'. Her life is of interest to feminists as an example of how women made careers in an academic system that did not welcome them.
She was born Mary Everest in England, the daughter of Revd Thomas Roupell Everest, Rector of Wickwar, and Mary nee Ryall. Her uncle George Everest gave his name to Mount Everest. She spent the first part of her life in France where she received an education in mathematics from a private tutor. On returning to England at the age of 11 she continued to pursue her interest in mathematics through self-instruction. George Boole became her tutor in 1852 and on the death of her father in 1855 they married and moved to Cork County, Ireland. Mary greatly contributed as an editor to Boole's The Laws of Thought, a work on algebraic logic. She had five daughters by him.
She was widowed in 1864, at the age of 32, and returned to England where she was offered a post as a librarian at Queen's College, London. She also tutored privately in mathematics and developed a philosophy of teaching that involved the use of natural materials and physical activities to encourage an imaginative conception of the subject. Her interest extended beyond mathematics to Darwinian theory, philosophy and psychology and she organised discussion groups on these subjects among others.
She died in 1916 at the age of 84.
Her five daughters made their marks in a range of fields. Alicia Boole Stott (1860-1940) became an expert in four-dimensional geometry. Ethel Lilian (1864–1960) married the Polish revolutionary Wilfrid Michael Voynich and was the author of a number of works including The Gadfly. Mary Ellen married mathematician Charles Hinton and Margaret (1858-1935) was the mother of mathematician G. I. Taylor. Lucy Everest (1862-1905) was a talented chemist and became the first woman Fellow of the Institute of Chemistry.