To inaugurate a new series, Lives of Women in Science, Rutgers University Press is reissuing this much-acclaimed biography of Sofia Kovalevskaia, the renowned nineteenth-century mathematician, writer, and revolutionary.
Sofia Kovalevskaia's interest in mathematics was roused at an early age--her attic nursery had been wallpapered with lecture notes for a course on calculus. She spent hours studying the mysterious walls, trying to figure out which page followed from the next. Kovalevskaia (1850-1891) became the only woman mathematician whose name all mathematicians recognize, thanks to her contributions to mathematical analysis. Indeed, she was the first professional woman scientist to win international eminence in any field: the first woman doctorate in mathematics, the first to hold a chair in mathematics, the first to sit on the editorial board of a major scientific journal.
She was also an accomplished writer, a proponent of women's rights and education, a wife and mother in an unconventional marriage, and a champion of radical political causes in Russia and Western Europe--a friend and correspondent of Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, George Eliot, Kropotkin, Helmholtz, and Darwin. This sympathetic portrait of a remarkable woman will appeal to any reader, non-mathematicians and mathematicians alike.