Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Two Postage Stamps Honoring Maria Gaetana Agnesi

In May 2018, I shared about some of the events being held in honor of Maria Gaetana Agnesi's 300th birthday.  But it wasn't until recently that I learned of additional events commemorating the anniversary: two postage stamps were issued to honor Maria, one by the Italian government and the other by the Vatican.

The stamp issued by the Italian government is one of a set of four celebrating “Italian Female Genius." Agnesi's stamp includes a graph of the "witch of Agnesi" curve named for her. She didn't invent the curve, and the name was the result of a mistranslation. See this post to read more about that.


According to, a website devoted to information about Agnesi, the Vatican issued an Agnesi stamp to recognize her as an "outstanding mathematician and impassioned Catholic." The Witch of Agnesi website was established by California State University mathematics professor Shirley Gray, a long-time advocate for recognizing Agnesi's contributions to mathematics. The Vatican stamp depicts Maria in prayer, but it also includes the witch of Agnesi curve on a sheet of paper lying on the floor beside her. 


I'm thrilled to see Maria Gaetana Agnesi honored in this way--it was long overdue!

Friday, October 16, 2020

Maria Gaetana Agnesi Biography on MacTutor Site

There's a great deal of misinformation about Maria Gaetana Agnesi online. One of the reasons I created this site was to point out some of those errors. Today, though, I'd like to share a website that sticks to the facts: the MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive. The site is hosted by the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. I was pleased to discover that the MacTutor biography of Maria Gaetana Agnesi is based on information from reputable sources, and it includes a list of those sources.

Here's the portrait of Maria included in the MacTutor bio (which is in the public domain):

I commend Edmund Robertson and John O'Connor, the creators of MacTutor, for a job well done!

Friday, September 18, 2020

Celebrating the Novel Playing by Heart, Inspired by the Agnesi Sisters

Monday, Sept. 30, 2020, will mark the third anniversary of the original release of my novel Playing by Heart, which was inspired by the lives of Maria Gaetana Agnesi and her sister, Maria Teresa Agnesi. To celebrate, I'm hosting a book giveaway Sept. 9 through Sept. 30, 2020. You can enter on the blog page of my website.

 If you're not familiar with the novel, here's a brief summary:
     Emilia Salvini dreams of marrying a man who loves music as she does. But in 18th-century Milan, being the 'second sister' means she'll likely be sent to a convent instead. Emilia's only hope is to prove her musical talents crucial to her father's quest for nobility. First, though, she must win over her music tutor, who disdains her simply for being a girl. Too late, Emilia realizes that her success could threaten not only her dreams but her sister's very life.

I incorporated a number of real-life events into the novel, which I explain in the book's Author's Note. And I did extensive research to find details that would help bring the story to life. I feel rewarded for my hard work whenever readers or reviewers comment on the book's details, as the Booklist reviewer did: “Martino’s romantic read features lovable characters and is vibrant in setting and detail.… The book is filled with rich depictions of houses and clothing, allowing readers to clearly picture the historical settings of both Milan and the countryside.” 

The novel has also received some lovely awards. You can read more about Playing by Heart on my website

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Good News for Maria Gaetana Agnesi's 302nd Birthday!

Let's year, I discovered that The Family Coppola has created a brandy called Agnesi 1799 in honor of Maria Gaetana Agnesi. The brandy is part of their line of "Great Women Spirits." I'm happy to report that the company updated their website information about Maria in response to my feedback regarding the inaccuracies there. The info isn't perfect, but it's much better!

So let's toast Maria on the anniversary of her birth as well as the Great Women Spirits marketing staff. Salute!