Women and Science

Leakey, Mary | Olduvai Gorge. My Search for Early Man

  • First edition, first impression and a fine copy, uncommon in such nice condition.

    Mary Leakey (1913-1996) was an accomplished archaeologist and paleoanthropologist who worked primarily on early humanoid fossils in Kenya and Tanzania with her husband and scientific partner Louis Leakey. “The site that will always be associated with Mary Leakey is Olduvai Gorge, a canyon in northern Tanzania containing rich collections of fossils and artefacts spanning about the last 2 million years. This became her second home, where she enjoyed fieldwork and research, accompanied by her pack of beloved dalmatian dogs, of which she was a well-known breeder. At Olduvai on 17 July 1959 she made one of the most famous fossil discoveries of all time, the skull of a 1.8 million-year-old early human relative whom Louis named Zinjanthropus (now Australopithecus or Paranthropus) boisei. Television coverage of the find made the Leakeys household names all over the world and brought them desperately needed funding from the National Geographic Society. Mary laboured under the hot sun, meticulously recording scatters of early stone tools and fossil bones, setting new standards for archaeological fieldwork, while Louis concentrated on fund-raising and lecturing. The technical details of her work are published in volumes 3 (1971) and 5 (1994) of the Olduvai Gorge series of Cambridge University Press and a popular account is given in Olduvai Gorge: My Search for Early Man (1979)” (ODNB).

  • London: Collins, 1979.

    Octavo. Original red boards, titles to spine gilt. With the dust jacket. 6 double-sided plates from black and white photographs, line drawings throughout the text. A fine copy in the jacket.