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Mary Anning (1799-1847)

  • Anning, Mary, 1799-1847.
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About this work


Two autograph letters to Sir Henry Bunbury dated December 1823, regarding her very recent discovery of the plesiosaurus:

1. letter dated 19 December [?1823], describing recent discoveries, including the plesiosaurus.

2. letter dated 26 December 1823, giving further detail about the plesiosaurus and discussing sale of the skeleton; a pen-and-ink sketch of the skeleton is included.



Physical description

1 file (2 items)

Acquisition note

No acquisition details recorded for item 1. Item 2 purchased from Glendining, London, August 1935 (possibly an error for 1934) (acc.67870).

Biographical note

Mary Anning was born and lived all her life in Lyme Regis, Dorset. Her father Joseph, a cabinet-maker, had developed a sideline in finding and selling the fossils that were to be found in the nearby cliffs, and Mary displayed early on a remarkably fine eye for locating fossils. In 1812 she discovered what was later to be named icthyosaurus, which established her reputation; thereafter she and her family lived by the fossil trade. She followed her discover of the ichthyosaurus with further, more complete specimens, and then by the first complete plesiosaurus, on 10 December 1823. In 1828 she discovered the first pterodactyl. Her discoveries brought her considerable fame and she became something of a tourist attraction in her own right. She died of breast cancer in 1847.

Ownership note

Previously held in the Wellcome Library's Western Manuscripts Autograph Letters Sequence.

Location of duplicates

Copies of MS.8592/2 are mounted on the Wellcome Images website: L0022370 - sketch with letter L0031727 - sketch only


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