A Rare and Precious Mary Anning Letter

By |2024-01-02T20:20:34+00:00May 12th, 2023|Dinosaur Fans, Famous Figures, Main Page, Photos|0 Comments

A letter from Mary Anning to the Reverend William Buckland forms part of an extensive archive recently purchased by a museum. The Oxford University Museum of Natural History has acquired archive material belonging to pioneering geologist the Reverend William Buckland and his artist and illustrator wife Mary (née Morland). The archive includes a rare Mary Anning letter.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s earlier blog post discussing the Buckland archive: Museum Acquires William Buckland Archive.

Mary Anning Letter
Part of a signed letter from Mary Anning to William Buckland from December 21st 1830. Mary Anning wrote to the Reverend Buckland to inform him about the recent discovery of a plesiosaur fossil. Picture credit: Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

The Mary Anning Letter

As a woman, Mary was largely excluded by the male-dominated scientific community. However, she did know more about fossils, geology and palaeontology compared to many of her gentleman patrons who purchased fossils from her. Only a few documents penned by Mary Anning exist. Pages from Mary Anning’s notebook are on display at the Dorset County Museum. A letter from Mary to William Buckland discussing the plesiosaur discovery forms an important part of the Buckland archive.

Mary in collaboration with family members excavated many extremely important fossil specimens including ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs and fish. In December 1828, Mary Anning discovered the first pterosaur fossil reported from England. This specimen was described by the Reverend William Buckland a year later (Dimorphodon macronyx).

To view models and replicas of marine reptiles and pterosaurs: Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Models.

The Mary Anning letter.
A section of the Mary Anning letter to William Buckland. Picture credit: Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“This is an important, historical and culturally significant archive. The archive will fit with the Oxford University Museum’s existing collection. It will help to provide a better understanding of the contribution made to science and to scientific debate in the Georgian/Victorian era.”

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