‘In Pursuit of Butterflies’: Eleanor Glanville and the Culture of Collecting Insects
Join the EGI for an online lecture by Michele Pflug about entomologist Eleanor Glanville, who the Institute is named after. Michele will draw on original research to retell Glanville’s life and legacy, situating her within the evolving social and cultural landscape of natural history and insect collecting. Michele will explore what Glanville’s story can tell us about the opportunities and limitations that women scientists faced at the turn of the eighteenth century.
The entomologist Eleanor Glanville (1655-1709) is best remembered for discovering a butterfly in Lincolnshire, now called the Glanville Fritillary, or Melitaea cinxia. But Glanville remains a little-known and underexplored figure in the history of natural history. In the first decade of the eighteenth century, Glanville carved out a space for herself as an impressive collector of rare butterflies amongst London naturalists. Her collecting activities stretched beyond London to the moorlands of her Somerset estate and to Lincolnshire, where she ambled through marshes and along the coasts searching for unique specimens. The Atlantic port city of Bristol, only 10 miles from Glanville’s home, afforded her opportunities to collect exotic butterflies from colonial outposts. After her death in 1709, her disinherited children attempted to overturn her will on the grounds of insanity, in part because of her study of butterflies. This lecture draws on original research to retell Glanville’s life and legacy, situating her within the evolving social and cultural landscape of natural history and insect collecting. I ask what Glanville’s story can tell us about the opportunities and limitations that women scientists faced at the turn of the eighteenth century.
- Date: 23 February, 2023
- Time: 18:00–19:00
- Platform: Zoom
- Sign up for the lecture here
Join the lecture on Zoom here
Michele is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at the University of Oregon in the U.S. She is currently writing a dissertation on Eleanor Glanville that explores the themes of gender, family, madness, religion, and entomology between 1690 and 1720. As part of her project, she hopes to create a publicly accessible, interactive digital network map of Glanville’s social circle.
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