The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Marcet, Jane Haldimand (1769–1858)

  • Robert W. Dimand
  • Evelyn L. Forget
Reference work entry


The classical political economist Jane Haldimand Marcet was born in London, the eldest of ten children of Anthony (Antoine) Haldimand, a Swiss citizen who was a successful London banker and property developer, and his English wife, Jane Pickersgill. She was tutored at home, studying the same subjects as her brothers, and took charge of the household at the age of 15, when her mother died. In December 1799 she married Alexander Marcet, a London physician from Geneva. Since her father bequeathed all his children an equal share of the family fortune, regardless of gender, she was independently wealthy, with no need to write for money. Nonetheless, she wrote 30 educational books on chemistry, political economy, botany, mineralogy, grammar and history, many written in the form of conversations. Her first book, an introduction to experimental chemistry, was published in 1806 after attending Humphrey Davy’s lectures at the Royal Institution and after repeating Davy’s experiments at home in Alexander Marcet’s laboratory. The book was adapted in the United States as a college text, and its tremendous commercial success is shown by the many plagiarized editions that emerged in a period with no effective international copyright law. It introduced the young Michael Faraday to science.


British classical economics Malthus, T. R. Marcet, J. H. Martineau, H. Say, J.-B. Utility 

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  1. Bodkin, R.G. 1999. The issue of female agency in classical economic thought: Jane Marcet, Harriet Martineau, and the men. Gender Issues 17: 62–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Polkinghorn, B. 1986. An unpublished letter from Malthus to Jane Marcet. American Economic Review 76: 845–847.Google Scholar
  3. Polkinghorn, B. 1993. Jane Marcet: An uncommon woman. Aldermaston: Forestwood Publications.Google Scholar
  4. Shackleton, J.R. 1990. Jane Marcet and Harriet Martineau: Pioneers of economic education. History of Education 19: 283–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert W. Dimand
    • 1
  • Evelyn L. Forget
    • 1
  1. 1.