◀ ▲ ▶History / 19th-century / Person: Ayrton, Phoebe Sarah Hertha Marks
Person: Ayrton, Phoebe Sarah Hertha Marks
Hertha Ayrton was an engineer and mathematician. She was awarded the Royal Society's Hughes Medal, and is well known as a suffragette.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- "Herta" was a nickname she received after the age of sixteen, and she is now almost always known by the name Hertha Ayrton.
- Her parents were Levi Marks and Alice Theresa Moss.
- Alice earned some money as a seamstress while Hertha, who was seven at this time, helped to look after her younger siblings.
- When Hertha was nine years old, Marion Hartog invited her to come and live with her and to be educated at her school.
- Barbara Bodichon (1827-1891) was a leading suffragette and the co-founder of Girton College, and Ottilie Hancock introduced Hertha to her.
- Hertha was persuaded to study for the Cambridge University Local Examinations for secondary schools which, partly through the efforts of Bodichon, were in 1865 open to women for gaining admission to Cambridge University.
- Bodichon did more than persuade Hertha to study for these examination for she paid for advanced mathematics lessons for her.
- Hertha entered Girton College, University of Cambridge, in 1877.
- During the time that Glazebrook was tutoring Hertha, he was studying with James Clerk Maxwell and Lord Rayleigh.
- Hertha did not excel in her studies of mathematics but showed amazing talents in other ways.
- Hertha did not distinguish herself in the Tripos examination which she took in 1880 and was ranked as Third Class.
- In order to get a degree, Hertha sat the external B.Sc. examinations of the University of London in 1881 and was awarded the bachelor's degree.
- Back in London, Hertha used her mathematical training to teach at Notting Hill High School and Ealing High School.
- In 1882 she met William Edward Ayrton (1847-1908), known as Will, who taught physics and was a pioneer in electrical engineering.
- Ayrton had studied at Glasgow under Kelvin and, after working in India and Japan, had returned to England setting up the City and Guilds Institute in 1879.
- This became the Finsbury Technical College in 1883 and, in the following year, Hertha began to attend evening classes on electricity at the College.
- Let us at this point sat a little about Barbara Bodichon Ayrton (1886-1950).
- Let us now return to describe Hertha's major contributions to science.
- Hertha's mathematical training was evident too, since not only did she conduct experiments but she was able to give an equation, now called the Ayrton equation, exhibiting a linear relation between arc length, pressure, and potential difference.
- For her innovative work Hertha was elected to membership of the Institution of Electrical Engineers in 1899.
- Hertha undertook other important scientific work which she began in 1901.
- Over 100,000 Ayrton fans were manufactured for use on the Western Front in World War I.
- There are some other comments we should make about Hertha.
Born 28 April 1854, Portsea, near Portsmouth, England. Died 23 August 1923, North Lancing, Sussex, England.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Origin England, Women
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive