Monday, May 16, 2016

Happy birthday, Maria Gaetana Agnesi!


Maria Gaetana Agnesi was born on this day in 1718. If you're not familiar with this amazing woman's story, you can read about her on this page of the blog, as well as in all the other posts on this blog.

I forgot to mention in my last post that in addition to working on a biography of Maria Gaetana Agnesi, I'm also writing a young adult historical romance based on her life and that of her composer sister, Maria Teresa. Thanks to the Internet, you can now hear some of Maria Teresa's compositions for yourself, including this one:



You can also read about her here. 
Enjoy!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Maria Gaetana Agnesi's 297th Birthday

As I explained several years ago, I've suspended regular posts to this blog. But I do like to take time once a year to acknowledge Maria Gaetana Agnesi's birthday. This year, I'm happy to note that after a long hiatus, I've returned to working on a biography for children about this intriguing woman. Wish me luck!

Meanwhile, I received an email asking for the names of Maria's siblings. I mentioned in my last post that, as far as we know, she had twenty siblings in all. We also know that one of Maria's sisters, Maria Teresa Agnesi, was an accomplished musician and composer. I mentioned her briefly in this post. You can read about her here.

Maria Teresa Agnesi, younger sister of Maria Gaetana Agnesi
I won't list the names of Maria Gaetana Agnesi's other siblings here. For that information, I suggest you read one of the published book-length biographies of her. I'm not going to do all your research for you!  

Happy birthday, Maria Gaetana Agnesi!


Friday, May 16, 2014

Celebrating Maria Gaetana Agnesi's 296th Birthday

Google is honoring Maria Gaetana Agnesi's 296th birthday today with an animated Google doodle that includes an animation of the curve bearing her name. 



Unfortunately, the doodle's reach is limited to Europe, Australia, and certain areas of Africa, Asia, and South America. While I'm pleased to see Maria recognized this way, I don't know why Google chose not to use the doodle here in the United States. Oh, well.

The good news is that the doodle is helping to spread the word about this amazing woman. Various news sites, like this one, feature reports about the doodle and Maria's life today. The bad news: some of these sites continue to repeat the common myths about her. For example, this site, reiterates the idea that Maria had to care for her 20 younger siblings after her mother died. I addressed part of this fallacy in an earlier post, explaining that her father remarried within two years of her mother's death. I neglected to mention in that post that when Maria's mother died, Maria had only 6 siblings. So she never would have been responsible for all 20 of her siblings.

Also on the good news side: it's now easier to know how to pronounce Maria's name. I shared a post awhile back trying to explain how to say it. Now there's a YouTube clip demonstration of it:




Regular posts to this blog are still on hold, as I explained here. But I couldn't resist making time to acknowledge Maria on the anniversary of her birth. 



Thursday, May 15, 2014

Google Doodle for Maria Gaetana Agnesi's Birthday?

Apparently, Google is honoring Maria Gaetana Agnesi's 296th birthday tomorrow, 
May 16, 2014with an animated Google doodle. I don't know yet what, if any, text will be included with the doodle, but I hope it's more accurate than what I found in a YouTube slide show featuring the Google doodle. I've commented on the slide show indicating the errors. If they're updated by the time I post again tomorrow, I may provide a link to the clip then. I don't want to promote more inaccuracies about Agnesi---there are already plenty of myths about her online!    

I'll be back tomorrow to wish Maria a happy birthday.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Birthday Present for Maria from the Writer's Almanac

This blog continues to be on hold, as I explained in this post. However, I do want to remind everyone that today is 
Maria Gaetana Agnesi's 295th birthday!

And what better present than an accurate write-up about her in today's Writer's Almanac!

You may recall that on this day in 2011, the Writer's Almanac got her bio wrong, repeating one of the many myths about Maria: that she couldn't become a nun because she had to care for her many younger siblings. As I explained in this post:
While it is true that Maria was shy and devout, her mother's death did not cause her to give up her religious aspirations. She was only 13 when her mother died. Maria may have helped out with her siblings for awhile, but by the time she turned 16, her father had remarried. The reasons for her not entering a convent had nothing to do with her mother's death.
In 2011, I sent the people at Writer's Almanac a note pointing out their mistake. I'm glad to see they've corrected the error.

Happy birthday, Maria! Or, as they say in Italy:


Monday, May 16, 2011

A Not So Pleasant Birthday Present: The Writer's Almanac Gets it Wrong

Although this blog is officially "on hold," I thought I'd take a quick moment to acknowledge Maria Gaetana Agnesi's birthday, and to correct some misinformation posted about her today at The Writer's Almanac. According to the almanac:
"Maria was shy and devout, and she longed to give up her public speaking and enter a convent. Her religious aspirations were dashed, however, when her mother died and she was left in charge of the household and the care of her many siblings."
This information contains another common myth about Maria: that she had to care for her siblings after her mother died. While it is true that Maria was shy and devout, her mother's death did not cause her to give up her religious aspirations. She was only 13 when her mother died. Maria may have helped out with her siblings for awhile, but by the time she turned 16, her father had remarried. The reasons for her not entering a convent had nothing to do with her mother's death.

I guess even inaccurate publicity is better than no publicity, though. I commend The Writer's Almanac for highlighting the fact that today is the anniversary of Maria Gaetana Agnesi's birthday: May 16, 1718.
Sitll, I consider it ironic that they begin their post by saying:
"It is the birthday of one of the first well-known female mathematicians of the Western world."
While Maria Gaetana Agnesi may have been well-known in her day, few people today have ever heard of her.  I hope that I can help change that by finding a publisher for my manuscript. In the meantime:

Happy Birthday, Maria,
or as they say in Italy:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Posting currently on hold

I have many more myths to debunk about Maria Gaetana Agnesi. However, I'd like to find a publisher for my manuscript first. So, I'm going to hold off on posting additional information about her for now. I hope to return to regular posts again some time in the future.