Wednesday, the 22nd of January–Shelf Control time once again! A weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, Shelf Control celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. To participate, all you do is pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it. Link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks!

This week’s pick is a biography, but one very different from the usual. Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel tells the story of Galileo through some surviving letters of his daughter, Sister Marie Celeste. First published in 1999, this book was nominated in 2000 for the Pulitzer Prize for biography or autobiography.

Suor Marie Celeste was the eldest of Galileo’s children and is said to have ‘best mirrored his own brilliance, industry, and sensibility’. As his children were illegitimate and had little prospect of marriage, Virginia (who became Marie Celeste) and her sister were placed in a convent, where Virginia took the veil in 1616. The letters she wrote to her father show great love and respect towards him; these exchanges also enabled her to keep abreast of happenings outside the convent. She had genuine interest in her father’s work and even offered her own opinions from time to time. The book takes us into the world of science, but also into life in the period, the Florence of the Medicis, and the papal court in Rome.

Of course, the book is more about Galileo than his daughter, and about his scientific work, not just his work with the telescope but also on sunspots which Sobel claims he also investigated. This book sounds to me like a really interesting read; I enjoy reading history, including history of science books, and the format of this being very different from the usual biographies; in that is not just focused on Galileo’s science but also his and his daughter’s life, I am really looking forward to picking this up. I have previously enjoyed books by Dava Sobel, especially Longitude, the story of John Harrison, creator of the first accurate chronometer.

Born in 1947, Dava Sobel is a freelance science writer and columnist, and has written various science-related books exploring the science as well as the people who worked with it. [I have written a full-length post about Sobel and her works previously-here].

Have you read this one before or any of Sobel’s other works? Which ones and how did you find them? Do you enjoy reading history of science? Which are some favourites? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

p.s. I will have a post on history of science favourites soon.

As always info on the book is from goodreads (here) and wikipedia (here)

Find reviews of Galileo’s Daughter by fellow bloggers (here) and (here)

4 thoughts on “Shelf Control #74: Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel #TBR #Science #Biography

    1. Thanks for sharing your review- I have come across this one but hadn’t really looked into what it is about; so was happy to read your review of it. It does sound interesting even if it doesn’t go into the women’s reasons for making these choices as such. Will look out for this one.


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