Mary Paley grew up in a rose-covered country rectory in Northamptonshire, England. Her great-grandfather was the famous philosopher William Paley, who wrote Natural Theology. Unusually for the time Mary’s father, the Reverend Thomas Paley, did not see why his daughter’s education should stop at age thirteen. He taught her maths and science himself and encouraged her to take the new exam for women wanting to become teachers. Mary did so well in it that in 1871 she was offered a scholarship to study at Newnham College in Cambridge.
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