Marie Stopes was unquestionably one of the most remarkable women of the 20th century. The long-term significance of her work in pioneering the defence of women’s rights, and in urging the general acceptance of contraception, far exceeds that of her contributions to palaeobotany. Nonetheless, between 1903 and 1935 she published a series of palaeobotanical papers that placed her among the leading half-dozen British palaeobotanists of her time. Her book Ancient Plants (1910; Blackie, London) was a successful pioneering attempt to popularize the subject for a non-botanical audience. Her contributions on the earliest angiosperms, on the formation of coal-balls, and, above all, on the nature and terminology of coal macerals have had a lasting impact on palaeobotanical thought.