Mary Somerville (Dec 26, 1780 - Nov 29, 1872) was a Scottish scientist, writer, and polymath. She studied mathematics and astronomy, and in 1835 she was elected together with Caroline Herschel as the first female Honorary Members of the Royal Astronomical Society.
In 1834 she became the first person to be described in print as a ‘scientist’. When she died in 1872, The Morning Post declared in her obituary that “Whatever difficulty we might experience in the middle of the nineteenth century in choosing a king of science, there could be no question whatever as to the queen of science”.
Somerville supported herself as a mathematics tutor to the children of the wealthy. One of her students was a little girl named Ada, daughter of the mathematically inclined baroness Annabella Milbanke and the only legitimate child of the sybarite poet Lord Byron — a little girl would would grow to be, thanks to Somerville’s introduction to Charles Babbage, the world’s first computer programmer.