Gender and botany in early nineteenth-century Portugal: the circle of the Marquise of Alorna
An ample number of studies have shown that during the late eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth century, botany attracted the attention and involvement of women not only as readers of literature on the subject but also as participants in botanical activities and as authors. However, women are still largely absent from the historiography of Portuguese botany in this period. This article contributes to filling this gap by focusing on the translation of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Letters on the elements of botany (1800) by the Marquise of Alorna (1750–1839) and her long poem Botanical recreations (1844). It addresses the issue of women's participation in science and looks not only at the importance of gender but also genre and social status in the dissemination of botany in Portugal. This article shows that in the period, the cultivation of science by women was associated with the upper classes while exchanges within circles of sociability through salons offered them an alternative to the public male-centred world of publication.