Anne Phillips is virtually unknown in the history of geology, but her contributions have increasingly been uncovered, most notably her work on the origins of Britain’s Malvern Hills.
Anne Phillips was the niece of William Smith, the creator of the first geological map, who was also her guardian from 1808. Like many women in history, what we know of Phillips is through letters and books written by her male contemporaries and relatives. Correspondence shows she was an avid reader, enjoyed museums, and had a great interest in geology.
Most of what we know about Phillips comes from the archive of her brother, John Phillips, the first Keeper of this Museum. She was his companion and field assistant for over 33 years and was responsible for at least one of the key discoveries on which he published. While staying and working in Malvern in 1842, she recognised a particular type of rock, called a conglomerate, which allowed her to challenge the prevailing idea of the time regarding the ages of the rocks in the area. This discovery proved that the Malvern Ridge had formed first and had time to be weathered and deposited beneath the seas of the Silurian period.
As picked by...
Kate Diston, Head of Print and Digital Collections