Marginalia: Carrie Brown

Mar 10, 2016

Credit © Aaron Mahler

Sir William Herschel was an astronomer who is best known for discovering Uranus and several moons while compiling a catalog of more than 2,500 celestial objects that is still in use today.

He was assisted for decades by his younger sister and fellow astronomer, Caroline Herschel. When he collected her from the family home in Germany to assist him in England, he liberated her from an awful existence , and she was forever grateful--and indebted--to him.

Caroline and William Herschel are the main characters in Carrie Brown’s latest book, The Stargazer’s Sister. To imagine the lives of these 18th century astronomers, Brown needed only to read their personal journals--although Caroline wrote in great detail, and William was a bit more spare.

I recently spoke with Carrie Brown about her research, about the necessity of blending fact with fiction, and about what sparked her fascination with the Herschel family to begin with.

Here’s our conversation:

The Stargazer's Sister by Carrie Brown was published by Pantheon.

Marginalia was produced at KMUW - Wichita. Discover new episodes at kmuw.org or through iTunes.

Editor: LuAnne Stephens

Engineer: Jon Cyphers

Producer: Beth Golay