Today, March 8, is International Women's Day.
18th-century sisters who inspired my historical novel Playing by Heart. The sisters are linguist, mathematician, and humanitarian Maria Gaetana Agnesi and musician and composer Maria Teresa Agnesi.
I started this website back in 2010 to debunk some of the myths surrounding the two sisters, especially those about Maria Gaetana Agnesi. Unfortunately, eight years later, there's still an amazing amount of misinformation about the family that continues to be disseminated both in print and online. One of the most annoying myths, in my opinion, is that the father of the Agnesi sisters was a mathematics professor. I discussed this myth back in June, 2010. I'd been pleased at that time to see that the error had been corrected in the Wikipedia entry about Maria Gaetana. Unfortunately, since then, someone has updated the Wikipedia entry so that it is now wrong again!
I still hope to eventually publish a nonfiction biography of Maria Gaetana Agnesi for students ages 10 and up that will provide the true story of her life, as best we can put together. Meanwhile, I recommend these two references for the most accurate information we have regarding Maria Gaetana specifically and her family in general:
- A Biography of Maria Gaetana Agnesi, an Eighteenth-Century Woman Mathematician by Antonella Cupillari
- The World of Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Mathematician of God by Massimo Mazzotti (You can follow him on Twitter @maxmazzotti)
The best information I’ve found regarding Maria Teresa Agnesi and her music is in Volumes 3 and 4 of Women Composers: Music through the Ages, edited by Sylvia Glickman and Martha Furman Schleifer.
I include these references in the Author's Note of my novel Playing by Heart. As I shared here recently, I'm currently offering a special giveaway in honor of Women's History Month. You can read the giveaway details as well as download an excerpt from the novel on this page of my website.
Happy International Women's Day!