Jacqueline Stedall

Jackie Stedall, who has died of cancer aged 64, was a well-acknowledged historian of mathematics. Although her career as a researcher, scholar and university instructor lasted less than 14 many years, it was drastically influential. Her 9 books, a lot more than 20 articles, input to the online edition of the manuscripts of Thomas Harriot, journal editorships and contributions to Melvyn Bragg’s Radio four programme In Our Time showed her exceptional breadth of scholarship.

She was as comfortable with the fine detail of textual examination and reconstruction as with synoptic research of individual authors (Harriot, John Pell, John Wallis), and with surveys of complete areas this kind of as algebra or the history of mathematics itself. In her guide From Cardano’s Excellent Art to Lagrange’s Reflections (2011), she showed how wrong historians and mathematicians had been to publish off the period 1545-1770 as 1 in which there was no progress in algebra. And she challenged the see, prevalent among historians, that mathematics somehow progresses only by means of “great and substantial works” and “substantial changes”. The Oxford Handbook of the Historical past of Mathematics (2009), which she edited jointly with Eleanor Robson, and her Historical past of Mathematics: A Extremely Short Introduction (2012) are quite various from traditional surveys: in a gently civilised way, she moves the topic and its image away from a male-dominated, Eurocentric picture to a a lot more inclusive and sophisticated world view.

Jackie was born in Romford, Essex, the eldest of three daughters of Irene (nee Stakes) and John Barton. Her father was a public health inspector. The family moved all around the nation with his employment ahead of settling in Walsall, exactly where Jackie attended Queen Mary’s high college for girls. From there she won a area to study mathematics at Girton College, Cambridge. She took a BA degree in 1972, an MSc in statistics from the University of Kent (1973), a PGCE in mathematics from Bristol Polytechnic (1991) and a PhD in the historical past of mathematics from the Open University (2000).

She joined Oxford University in 2000 as Clifford Norton pupil in the historical past of science at Queen’s University, in which she became my near good friend and colleague. In due program she was appointed to a departmental lectureship in the Oxford Mathematical Institute and grew to become senior investigation fellow at Queen’s.

Following her studies at Cambridge and Canterbury, Jackie was for three many years a statistician in the division of mental wellness at Bristol University and for 4 years the overseas programmes administrator for the charity War on Want in London. She spent seven years as a full-time parent and then eight many years as a schoolteacher prior to she embarked on her doctoral scientific studies, supervised by John Fauvel. In 1981 she married Jonathan Stedall, a documentary film director, and they had two children, Thomas and Ellie. Their lovely old loved ones home in a deep Cotswold valley near Painswick, Gloucestershire, was full of friends and happiness.

Both as an undergraduate and in later on life, Jackie travelled and walked extensively. She had a fantastic really like of wild places, specifically the Outer Hebrides, the place she had holidayed from childhood. When she acquired a cottage in North Uist, to which she would go in the course of most university vacations and in which she did a lot of her writing in her final 5 years, she grew to become as considerably a component of the local community there as she was in the Cotswolds and in Oxford.

Jackie’s university educating was as productive as her analysis. She moulded the Oxford undergraduate alternative on the history of mathematics to her clear perceptions of what studying at third-12 months undergraduate degree must be, with students currently being proven how to take care of evidence and to publish about it obviously. Her Mathematics Emerging (2008) is a source book containing major materials (supplemented with her translations exactly where the originals are in Latin, French or German), designed specifically for this Oxford program. The good quality of her work on this and other programs earned her a variety of prizes and awards more than the years.

Brought up in Methodism – one of her grandfathers had been a Methodist minister – she found herself, though not a member of any church, comfortable in the dissenting, Anglican, Roman Catholic and Quaker traditions. Her association with the Painswick Friends’ meeting home gave her peace and happiness in her final two many years when, in her words, she “lived with” cancer.

She is survived by Jonathan, Tom and Ellie and by her sisters, Sheila and Helen.

• Jacqueline Anne Stedall, historian of mathematics, born 4 August 1950 died 27 September 2014

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