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The Romance of Mathematics: Being the Original Researches of a Lady Professor of Girtham College... (1886)
Peter Hampson Ditchfield

The Reverend Peter Hampson Ditchfield (1854-1930) was the author of many novels and histories, including this odd piece that claims to be compiled from the lecture notes and diaries of a "lady professor", which must have been a very odd idea at the time. Many explicit formulas and references to things such as conic sections attest to the fact that the "lady" (as well as the author) really knows something about math, but I suppose the fact that she keeps addressing questions of culture and politics through them are supposed to be a nod to her "feminine" side.

The author's intentions are obscure today, but I have been convinced by Amber Cheslak, a student in my Math in Fiction course, that Ditchfield was in fact parodying the notion that a woman could do mathematics. Her ideas are intended to seem quaint at best (certainly not brilliant), and the conclusion in which she quits her academic job to marry a former student is probably supposed to represent a return to the natural order of the universe.

More information about this work can be found at
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Works Similar to The Romance of Mathematics: Being the Original Researches of a Lady Professor of Girtham College...
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin Abbott Abbott
  2. Sophie's Diary by Dora Musielak
  3. Euclid and His Modern Rivals by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll)
  4. Into Thin Air by Colin Adams
  5. Topsy-turvy (Sans Dessus Dessous) by Jules Verne
  6. The Mathematics of Being Human by Michelle Osherow / Manil Suri
  7. Inquirendo Island by Hudor Genone
  8. The Chair of Philanthromathematics by O. Henry (William Sydney Porter)
  9. The Birds by Aristophanes
  10. Riot at the Calc Exam and Other Mathematically Bent Stories by Colin Adams
Ratings for The Romance of Mathematics: Being the Original Researches of a Lady Professor of Girtham College...:
RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.
Mathematical Content:
3/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
3/5 (1 votes)

GenreHumorous, Didactic,
MotifAcademia, Female Mathematicians, Romance, Math Education,
TopicGeometry/Topology/Trigonometry, Real Mathematics,
MediumNovels, Available Free Online,

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May 2016: I am experimenting with a new feature which will print a picture of the cover and a link to the page for a work of mathematical fiction when it is available. I hope you find this useful and convenient. In any case, please write to let me know if it is because I would be happy to either get rid of it or improve it if that would be better for you. Thanks! -Alex

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)