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Hertha Ayrton (1854–1923)

Photo credit: Girton College, University of Cambridge

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Phoebe Sarah Hertha Ayrton, née Marks (1854–1923) was an English engineer, mathematician and inventor. She attended Girton College as a student from 1876 to 1881, where she studied mathematics, and passed the Mathematical Tripos in 1880. At that time, Cambridge gave only certificates and not degrees to women. She successfully completed an external examination and received a BSc degree from the University of London in 1881. For her research and work with the electric arc, she received the Hughes Medal in 1906. She also invented a fan that could create spiral vortices to repel gas attacks. These became known as Ayrton fans.

Girton College, University of Cambridge



Hertha Ayrton (1854–1923)




oil on canvas


H 159 x W 99 cm

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Girton College, University of Cambridge

Huntingdon Road, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire CB3 0JG England

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