• Another image of NATURA RERUM. LA CONSTITUTION DU MONDE by ROYER, Clémence.
  • Another image of NATURA RERUM. LA CONSTITUTION DU MONDE by ROYER, Clémence.
  • Another image of NATURA RERUM. LA CONSTITUTION DU MONDE by ROYER, Clémence.
‘One of the cleverest and oddest women in Europe’

NATURA RERUM. LA CONSTITUTION DU MONDE Dynamique des atomes nouveaux principes de philosophie naturelle. Paris, Librairie C. Reinwald. Schleicher Frères, éditeurs...

1900. 8vo, pp. [vi] including front blank, xxii, 799, [1] contents; with four lithograph plates (comprising chromolithograph frontispiece, one further chromolithograph, a folding plate and a large folding graph), and with numerous text illustrations and diagrams; lightly browned throughout due to paper quality, otherwise clean and crisp, with a few occasional nicks to fore-edge; in contemporary maroon morocco backed marbled boards, with the original printed wrappers bound in, upper wrapper with neat verso repair at tail, spine in compartments with raised bands ruled and lettered in gilt, retaining original green silk marker, head and tail of spine, and spine bands rubbed and worn, with further light scuffing to boards and extremities, corners a little bumped; with the ownership signature of Paul Duhem on half-title and title-page; a good copy. First edition of this attractively illustrated work by the philosopher, physicist, anthropologist, archaeologist and politician Clemence Augustine Royer (1830-1902).
Largely self-educated, Royer moved to Lausanne in 1857 (having previously taught as a governess in Wales for a brief period). Once in Lausanne she began her career of writing and public speaking, and began an educational course for women in logic. ‘Women speakers were fashionable then, and she continued in 1859-1860 with a course in natural philosophy. Because formal advanced education was not yet open to women even in Switzerland, a pioneer in this area of social progress, she had little competition and could attract considerable audiences. Her lecture program expanded, both in Lausanne and in other Swiss cities; later she went to Italy... her wide reading enabled her to cover many subjects; She liked to combine fields, drawing no separation between science and philosophy’ (Creese, II, p. 85). Royer is best remembered for her dissemination of Darwin in France, notably through her translation (the first) of the Origin of Species in 1862, though Darwin objected to some of her notes, and is known to have described her as ‘one of the cleverest and oddest women in Europe’ (Freeman). Publication of the work eventually led to her controversial election as a member of the Société d’Anthropologie de Paris in 1870, Royer becoming an active member of the society until her death in 1902.
In addition to her scientific interests, through her long-term relationship with the political activist Pascal Duprat (with whom she had a son out of wedlock) Royer had considerable visibility in Paris social and political circles and from 1870 when Duprat served in the National Assembly her writings focused on political problems, notably the condition of women, and she later became a major figure in the feminist movement.
Though elegantly produced and substantial in content, including two striking chromolithograph plates notably that depicting ‘Les Couleurs Spectrales et leur cheminement dans l’éther’, of the present work Creese notes that it ‘suffered sadly from her lack of scientific training’.

Bibliography: OCLC: 7012678 locate copies at Stanford, UCLA, Harvard, Cornell, the Library of Congress, Cleveland, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Leeds.

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