The Times/1907/Obituary/Agnes Mary Clerke
Miss Agnes Mary Clerke
Miss Agnes Mary Clerke, the scientific writer, died on Sunday morning at her residence, 68, Redcliffe-square, S.W., at the age of 64. There will be a Requiem Mass at the Church of the Servites, Fulham-road, to-morrow morning, at 10.30.
An astronomical correspondent writes with reference to Miss Clerke:—"During the last century two ladies only were elected honorary members of the Royal Astronomical Society—Caroline Herschel and Mrs. Somerville. The new century soon saw fresh honorary members elected, and among them Miss Agnes Clerke, whose last important work, 'Problems in Astrophysics,' was of such great scientific value that the Astronomical Society could no longer ignore her claims to public recognition by them. And when we say 'last important work' we must acknowledge also the outstanding merit of two earlier books, 'The System of the Stars' and 'History of Astronomy in the 19th Century,' besides less important volumes, 'The Herschels and Modern Astronomy,' 'Modern Cosmogenies,' and many scientific magazine articles, principally of the nature of reviewers or interpretation of results, in which her keen insight into the true significance of observed physical facts was so wonderful as her fluency and command of language, so that both from the literary and scientific standpoints she must be ranked as a great scientific writer. No one writing a history of modern astronomy can fail to acknowledge the great debt owed to the masterly army of facts in her 'history.' No worker in the vast field of modern sidereal astronomy opened by the genius of Herschel and greatly widened by the application of the spectroscope to the chemical and physical problems of the universe lacked due recognition by Miss Clerke, who performed as it seemed no other writer could have done the work of collation and interpretation of this enormous mass of new material, ever pointing the way to new fields of investigation, often by one pregnant suggestion sweeping aside a whole sheaf of tentative conjectures and indicating, if not the true line—for in many cases the truth is yet to seek—at least, a plausible and scientific line well worth pursuing. She will be missed at the meetings of the Royal Astronomical Society, aw which she was a constant visitor even before her election as an honorary member, and where her clear judgment was al times called upon to determine the value of some new suggestion in the domain of celestial physics. She was not a practical astronomer in the ordinary sense; but her death, on Sunday morning leaves a gap that will be hard to fill. She was the daughter of Mr. John William Clerke, who died in London in 1890. Her sister, “Miss E. M. Clerke,” in The Times (1906)