Grace Anne Milne (Lady Prestwich): more than an amanuensis?
Grace Anne Milne, born in 1832, was the eldest child of James Milne of Findhorn in Morayshire and his wife Louisa Falconer, sister of the eminent botanist and palaeontologist Hugh Falconer. A marriage to George McCall in 1854 was short-lived. Widowed within 18 months and also losing her infant son, bereavement was followed by some years of depression. At this stage in her life an interest in geology was kindled by her uncle, who had been forced to give up his post in India because of the state of his health. From 1858 she travelled abroad with Falconer and subsequently resided with him in London until his death in 1865. During this period Grace both organized his household and acted as his secretary and companion. His regular and frank letters to her, about his scientific ideas, demonstrate that the relationship was more than one of domestic convenience. In 1870 Grace married Joseph Prestwich, a friend of Falconer and a London wine merchant who spent all his spare time ‘geologizing’. They lived at Shoreham near Sevenoaks in Kent and, between 1874 and 1887, lived for part of the year in Oxford after Prestwich's appointment as professor of geology at the university. With Prestwich's encouragement, from 1874, she began to publish novels, travel articles and scientific papers, as well as helping him in the preparation of his own lectures and diagrams. Her six Chapters on Geology were published in 1880 as well as other articles on subjects such as Scottish scenery and the Channel Tunnel. Most were published in magazines, such as Leisure Hour and Every Girl's Magazine, designed for a readership from the prosperous middle classes. Her interest in geology meant that she was able to play a full part in Prestwich's life, helping him with his work and travelling with him on his geological adventures. She was a geologist in her own right and held in high regard by the Fellows of the Geological Society.