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Abstract

In the late summer of 1842, Anne Phillips, working under her brother's instructions, found the crucial piece of evidence – known thereafter as Miss Phillips' conglomerate – that disproved Murchison's theories about the intrusive origin of the Malvern Hills. Later she travelled with her brother to examine the volcanics of the Auvergne. But these were not her first, or her only, geological achievements. From 1829 until her death in 1862, Anne served as housekeeper to her bachelor older brother. Orphaned at an early age, both John and Anne were taken in by their uncle, William Smith. Smith arranged for John's schooling and introduced John to the science of geology as a teenager. However, little evidence exists about Anne's upbringing and education. A series of 234 letters written by John to Anne between 1829 and 1841, and preserved in the Phillips archive at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, reveals that Anne was clearly well educated and provided her brother with valuable scientific back-up as well as essential domestic and emotional support during their 33 years together.

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