Sketch of Proctor that appeared in The New York Times on September 9, 1894.
|Died||September 11, 1957|
|Parent(s)||Richard A. Proctor|
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Mary Proctor (1862 – September 11, 1957) was an American popularizer of astronomy. While not a professional astronomer, Proctor became well known for her books and articles written for the public – particularly her children's fiction. Despite various claims as being an American, there is a passenger list of about 1924 where she gives nationality as British.
Mary Proctor was born in Dublin, Ireland, the daughter of Mary and Richard Proctor. Proctor's mother died in 1879. Her father remarried in 1881 and her family immigrated to the United States settling in Saint Joseph, Missouri in 1882.
Proctor's father was a British popularizer of astronomy, lecturer, and writer. As she grew up, Proctor often assisted her father in his work, looking after his library and correcting proofs of his books before they went to publication. She graduated from the London College of Preceptors in 1898.
In 1881, Proctor assisted her father in founding and producing a journal called Knowledge. She wrote a series of articles on the topic of comparative mythology. After a well-received appearance at the World's Columbian Exposition 1893, she eventually developed a career as an astronomy lecturer. Her book-length debut, Stories of Starland (1898), was adopted by the New York City Board of Education. She worked as an astronomy teacher in private schools while attending Columbia University.
Proctor authored many articles for newspapers, journals and published numerous popular books. Her articles and books were mostly aimed for young readers, which earned her the nickname "the children's astronomer." Her books were easy to read, accurate, informative and well illustrated. Known and respected by many professional astronomers, Proctor became an elected member of the British Astronomical Association in 1897 and the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1898. In 1916, she was elected as a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.