International Women’s Day: The Advancement of Two Women in Science

In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, I am offering complimentary downloads of both Maria Mitchell’s and Hertha Marks Ayrton’s coloring portraits from The Historical Heroines Coloring Book: Pioneering Women in Science from the 18th and 19th Centuries!

The Advancement of Two Women in Science

Just a century and a half ago, a group of women created an organization to discuss and demonstrate how women needed opportunities to expand their interests and participate in society beyond their expected roles of managing their own households. The American Association for the Advancement of Women was co-founded by Maria Mitchell (1818-1889) in 1873. Not only was Maria elected as the Association’s president for two consecutive years, she also chaired the Science Committee until her death.

Maria is most notably known for being the first American woman to discover a comet. She was also the first professional woman astronomer and the first woman to teach as a professor of astronomy at Vassar College. Her discovery of what came to be known as “Miss Mitchell’s Comet” led her to become the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as well as the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Maria was also a strong advocate for the equal rights of girls and women, believing that society was doing a disservice to itself by not allowing women to work outside of the home. She felt it was wrong to not allow women to attend grammar school, let alone university. What new ideas and intellectual contributions could women offer to society if they were no longer bound to their homes? What could they contribute to science if they were permitted? In a paper titled “The Need of Women in Science” that Maria presented to the Fourth Congress of the Association for the Advancement of Women held in 1876, she wrote:

Does anyone suppose that any woman in all the ages has had a fair chance to show what she could do in science? The laws of nature are not discovered by accidents; theories do not come by chance, even to the greatest minds; they are not born of the hurry and worry of daily toil; they are diligently sought, they are patiently waited for, they are received with cautious reserve, they are accepted with reverence and awe. And until able women have given their lives to investigation, it is idle to discuss the question of their capacity for original work.

Holding similar beliefs, across the Atlantic ocean in England, Hertha Marks Ayrton (born Phoebe Sarah Marks, 1854-1923) felt that gender should play no role in science. Born just two decades before the establishment of the American Association for the Advancement of Women, Hertha had an entirely modern view of women in the workplace – specifically in science. Why not just simply allow women to pursue science and to not differentiate between the male scientist and female scientist? Simply put, give a woman the chance and allow her work to speak for itself.

Hertha’s mother, however, certainly did not inspire this idea. She did not even believe in the right of an education for girls, for women were meant to work at home. Hertha did not allow her mother’s views to influence her life; rather, it ignited in her a profound desire to pursue her talents in mathematics, physics, and engineering. With the financial assistance of one of the school’s founders, Barbara Bodichon, Hertha attended Girton College, the first university for women in England, where she studied mathematics. Hertha registered 26 patents – all in her own name – and wrote several papers. Her discovery of what caused hissing in the electric arc of arc lamps led her to write The Electric Arc (1902), which became the standard textbook on the subject.

Although she was the first female member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, she was not allowed to read one of her papers before the Royal Society of London in 1901 because of her gender, a man presented it instead. She told a journalist in response to this discrimination, “Personally I do not agree with sex being brought into science at all. The idea of ‘women and science’ is entirely irrelevant. Either a woman is a good scientist, or she is not; in any case she should be given opportunities, and her work should be studied from the scientific, not the sex, point of view.” Little did both Hertha and Maria know how much more work would be needed before women and men would be seen as equals in not just the workplace, but particularly in the fields of science –– and little did they both know how valued their scientific contributions and women’s rights work would become.

img_5426Hertha and Maria are featured in The Historical Heroines Coloring Book: Pioneering Women in Science from the 18th and 19th Centuries. It is my hope, as the author of The Historical Heroines, that in reading about and coloring the portraits of these inspiring women in science, young people today will feel empowered to not only reach for their own dreams, but also help their peers – and working toward ending gender discrimination.

Find more information on Maria Mitchell, Hertha Marks Ayrton, and 29 other brilliant women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in The Historical Heroines Coloring Book: Pioneering Women in Science from the 18th and 19th Centuries (White Wave Press, 2017), written by Elizabeth Lorayne and illustrated by Kendra Shedenhelm.

Download your very own coloring pages below at your convenience!
For Mac computers press “control” and click the image to “save image as” &  For PC computers right click on the image to “save image as”




About the Author: Elizabeth Lorayne is an award-winning author and publisher of children’s books. After the success of her haiku-written series The Adventures of Piratess Tilly, whose heroine is a budding naturalist and the captain of her own ship, Elizabeth continues to produce books with themes of girl-empowerment, eco-consciousness, exploration, and science. She is an artist and mother, inspired by nature, history, and the rhythms of her surroundings. Elizabeth is a graduate of The New School in Manhattan and a current member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She resides in Newburyport, MA with her family.

Women in Science and Kickstarter!

I couldn’t think of a more meaningful day to launch my very first KickStarter for my newest project – The Historical Heroines Coloring Book: Pioneering Women in Science from the 18th and 19th Centuries than yesterday – the first day of Women’s History Month! I can’t seem to shake this desire to work towards inspiring children, teens, and adults – and so I continue to create empowering and educational books.


The idea behind this particular coloring book is a bit more unique in that each woman scientist will be featured as a double page spread. On the lefthand side I will provide a short biography and on the righthand side,  the coloring image itself, drawn by Kendra Shedenhelm. Each coloring illustration will incorporate some of what that woman scientist accomplished. Michael Barton, a science historian, who helped write the biography on Charles Darwin for my Piratess Tilly children’s picture books will be assisting me with research and editing.



I am really excited about this project and hope you feel the same. If so, please consider both sharing the project with your friends and family as well as contributing to the campaign by pre-ordering the book at a discounted rate and therefore becoming an official backer!

P.S. My daughter Vivi helped with the video and I couldn’t be prouder! Check out the campaign here! Thank you!!

Kirkus Reviews and Piratess Tilly Easter Island

“An eye-pleasing picture book that offers a winning mix of adventure, science, and poetry, with a strong heroine who invites readers to view the world as a place of natural wonder.” -Kirkus Reviews

I am still on cloud nine over this incredible review by Kirkus Indie! They had asked me to send a pdf of the first book (Galapagos Islands) as they were using a different reviewer from so I was particularly anxious. It was a long 7-9 weeks! Well, the wait was worth it as the reviewer fully appreciated the story and character development, the haiku, the artwork and all of the educational pieces I’ve added to the book! I cannot wait to share the book when it’s available at the end of February. See the full review below:


In this second installment of an ecologically based adventure series for children, a young naturalist and ship’s captain sails to a remote island and discovers a threat to the local wildlife.

Piratess Tilly—the refreshingly bold, smart heroine introduced in Lorayne’s debut picture book (The Adventures of Piratess Tilly, 2016), illustrated by Watson—takes to the sea again on her research ship, the Foster. She’s accompanied by her friend Yuki (a rescued koala bear) and the seven orphan boys who make up her diverse crew. Their destination: Easter Island. Unfolding in graceful haiku, the tale follows passionate naturalist Tilly (“An explorer’s dress / Patch pockets for her notebooks / Trade tools in her bag”) as she studies the mysterious Moai statues and scuba dives to observe marine life native to the area, sketching and cataloging what she sees. The trip takes an unexpected turn when the crew encounters pirates raiding the nests of sooty terns in an egg-smuggling venture, and the group launches a successful rescue effort, led by parasailing Tilly and Yuki. (In the first Tilly adventure, a trip to the Galapagos Islands became a mission to save baby giant tortoises from the clutches of another band of pirates.) Lorayne’s poetic text is fully integrated into Watson’s lovely watercolor images, executed with an eye for captivating detail. The tale delivers enough escapades and suspense to satisfy a young audience, but the author also includes ample learning opportunities to encourage children to seek out the story’s substantial real-life underpinnings. These include examples of sailors’ knots, a glossary of words and terms—endemic, expeditions, trade winds, thermals, etc.—and various fish species skillfully rendered by Watson. In addition, the volume features short biographies of Tilly’s 19th- and 20th-century inspirations, Charles Darwin (“Darwin on her shelves / Evokes her scholarly dreams / Coral reefs and fish”) and anthropologist Katherine Routledge, written by science historian Michael Barton and archaeologist Jo Anne Van Tilburg.

An eye-pleasing picture book that offers a winning mix of adventure, science, and poetry, with a strong heroine who invites readers to view the world as a place of natural wonder.

Free Piratess Tilly children’s ebook!

In the spirit of holiday giving, I’m offering my ebook for free until tomorrow at 11:59pm!

In this picture book, written in haiku, an adventurous girl and her crew of orphaned boys sail the high seas and intercept a band of pirates kidnapping tortoises on the Galapagos Islands!

“Tilly—tough, daring and scientifically minded—is a capable heroine with an enviable life at sea.” —Publishers Weekly


Interview: All Hands on Deck for Girl-Empowerment!

I am sharing below an interview I had with Captain Rosario Fernandez Rodriguez of tall ship El Galeón this past spring in Newburyport. It was an absolutely magical experience for me and something I recall quite frequently. I hope you enjoy it!

Captain Rosario and Elizabeth Lorayne_150 rgb web.jpg
The Adventures of Piratess Tilly author Elizabeth Lorayne with the Spanish tall ship El Galeon’s Captain Rosario Fernandez Rodriguez.

May 27, 2016  Interview with Captain Rosario Fernandez Rodriguez of tall ship El Galeón docked in Newburyport, MA written by Elizabeth Lorayne.

There was magic in the air that morning of Friday, May 27th. Not only was the 16th century Spanish tall ship replica, El Galeón, in Newburyport’s harbor, but I was scheduled to meet the captain, the only female captain of a tall ship in the world. The synchronicity of this opportunity left me feeling giddy as I walked the enlivened streets of Newburyport to the ship. This special meeting was arranged by the Newburyport Custom House Maritime Museum because of my children’s picture book, The Adventures of Piratess Tilly. Piratess Tilly is the captain of her own ship and leads her crew on naturalist expeditions. It felt all too pertinent that I give a copy of the book to a real female captain. 

Boarding El Galeón, walking topside, past the hundreds of salt water infused lines, and simultaneously ducking while stepping over the lip of the doorway; immediately sent me back to my formative years sailing and boating 60 miles northeast of Seattle, WA in the San Juan Islands. Upon meeting Captain Rosario Fernandez Rodriguez, I immediately felt a kinship, while her gracious confidence reminded me of my task at hand.

Once seated on the wooden benches in the galley, I presented her with my book. Her eyes lit up at the cover showing young Piratess Tilly at the helm of her own tall ship. Rosario immediately related to the many purposes of the book. She loved the poetry and the art, but mostly she loved the girl-empowerment and the educational features of Piratess Tilly and her crew’s life aboard the ship.

Tucked inside the book I had a few questions I hoped Rosario would be willing to answer. Little did I know we would speak for the next two hours, discussing her own childhood sailing and some of her experiences becoming a female captain.

Was there a specific moment from your childhood that contributed directly to your desire to work on and eventually captain a tall ship?

Rosario grew up in Arcos de la Frontera, Spain, where her family lived some 300ft from a lake. It was on this lake that her passion for sailing was born. When Rosario was a child, her father and his friends often sailed a 420 sailboat,

“I remember being seated on to the top of the box for the keel and I remember perfectly the color of the hull, and also the shape of the sail completely, full of wind. I remember that I liked it a lot.”

From that formative moment she seized the opportunity to sail her father’s friends windsurfing board. She didn’t know how to sail, but she persevered and managed to sail across the lake. When she reached the other side, she didn’t know how to return against the wind, so she paddled atop the board! From that moment she knew she needed to learn how to sail properly.

Her father took his own passion for sailing and worked to build a sailing club, the Arcos Sailing Club. Rosario explained that because Arcos de la Frontera is 70 miles from the coast, it took some time to show the local community and councilmen the advantages of sailing as a sport. Her father was determined and after receiving several donated 420 sailboats from clubs on the coast, his own sailing club took flight.  Pride overfilled her eyes as she told me about the hours she spent helping him repair the boats in preparation for their club. A few years later, when she was 13, in conjunction with a club on the coast, they were ready to offer sailing lessons. Rosario quickly decided she wanted to become a certified sailing instructor, which she accomplished a few years later.

When did you decide to become a captain?

While attending courses in art history at university, Rosario spent every free moment teaching. Once she finished school, she quickly realized she was truly happiest on the water.  She then decided to make sailing her way of living, saying she,

“wanted to have my own ship, I want to charter my own ship, I want to become a captain of my ship, but I didn’t think of being a captain of a tall ship at that moment,” laughing with amusement at the major role she eventually attained.

What are your favorite aspects to both working on and captaining a tall ship?

When meeting and spending time with Rosario it is not hard to see how seriously she takes her role as captain, from how she oversees her crew, expecting them to always be maintaining the ship and learning, to her own willingness to learn,

“I like that I am all of the time teaching, I like that, but also I am all the time learning. And also I get to know many many different places and many different people. It’s also a way of knowing myself or trying to know myself and I try also to learn about everything to be a better person and captain. I try.”

What would you say to young girls who have big dreams and goals?

With the girl-empowerment aspect of The Adventures of Piratess Tilly, I was curious to hear what this real life female captain would say to young girls,

“Everything is possible if you work towards it. I mean, if you work, focusing, you can get it, you can get it.”

Rosario explained to me some of the hardships she’d experienced as a woman trying to become a captain. She often faced disbelief by boat owners, who would instead offer her jobs as a stewardess. Her perseverance and patience endured and she went from captaining a dredger ship to captaining the Nao Victoria and El Galeón. Even as our time together was coming to end, it was clear to me how important this question was to Rosario as she came back to it saying,

“If you work hard, if you focus on what you want and if you are full of what you want, you can do it. And if someone wants to restrict you, just try to smile and look to the other side and go the other way. Take the other door – the other paths – there are many, many paths. Just try another one.”

Elizabeth Lorayne is the author of the award-winning children’s picture book, The Adventures of Piratess Tilly. A native Seattleite and the granddaughter of Admiral Walter T. Griffith, she feels most at home near water, which makes living in Newburyport, MA most appropriate. She is an artist and writer, who enjoys hiking and creating art with her family. You can contact her by email or through her books website The sequel to The Adventures of Piratess Tilly, taking place on Easter Island, is due out January 2017.

Piratess Tilly: Easter Island

After receiving awards and wonderful industry reviews, I felt encouraged to write a sequel to The Adventures of Piratess Tilly. In the second book, Piratess Tilly and her crew head to Easter Island. I will be sending the finished book to reviewers in the next week and then it will be off for printing – expected publication of January 2017. Follow more on facebook and on the blog. I hope you’ll stay tuned!


Writing Blocked by Life

My writing has been a bit blocked lately for various reasons. I also find that when I’m envisioning an art piece, I can’t focus on writing as well. Maybe someone else can relate?!

Now that our home restoration is getting closer to wrapping up (!!!), I can finally set up a desk to (soon) work on these paintings I have in mind. Until last week, the closet with my art supplies was barricaded by boxes and furniture. This also means I can finally make more Paperie Flora cards for the local gift store in town, who is nearly sold out! Maybe working on some hands on art will help with this writing block?!

One writing project in particular has me in a bind. I had been very excited and feeling confident, but now I’m unsure. I need to take a few deep breaths and regain my footing. This is definitely one of the reasons my other writing has been stagnant.

On the upside, after just a few days of no longer having workers inside of our house, we decided to go on a road trip South to see family. It was lovely! Truly a fun whirlwind of driving every day (6 days total) to see new babies (cousins for our 15 month old!) and my 96 year old grandmother (Vivi’s great grandmother!)!

I feel a bit renewed having gone on this adventure. Now, to organize our house from the chaos of restorations/renovations. That too may help unblock my writing!

Wish me luck!


I’ve Been Nominated for a Liebster Award!


I am so honored! I have recently been nominated for a Liebster Award by the beautiful blog, In My Roots. The Liebster Award is a fantastic way to recognize blogs you enjoy reading with fewer than 200 followers.

When nominated, the following rules apply to the nominees:

  1. Post 11 things about yourself.
  2. Answer the 11 questions posed by your nominator.
  3. Choose 11 blogs and link them in your post. Don’t forget to let them know they’ve been nominated.
  4. Create 11 questions for your nominees to answer.
  5. No tag backs! We wouldn’t want people to get double nominations. Too much work for them anyways.

11 Interesting Things About Me

  1. I haven’t watched television in over a year and I do not miss it.
  2. I love bicycling.
  3. I once wanted to be a Primatologist… And then a Psychologist.
  4. When I was 11, I started a “save the earth club” that I named “The Pangea Alliance.”
  5. I have a soft spot for The Phantom of the Opera.
  6. I once held the position of Stroke on a Crew team.
  7. I am relieved to no longer live in NYC and I deeply appreciate hearing the Atlantic ocean at night, but I secretly miss the mountains, evergreens, pines and cedars of the Pacific Northwest.
  8. I really want to write a book… Or two!
  9. I grew up watching and loving The NeverEnding Story, Labyrinth and The Princess Bride.
  10. My favorite book is The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
  11. I’d like to learn how to crochet.

11 Answers for the Cool Nominator, In My Roots.

  1. Diet or regular? I grew up on Diet, but when I drink it now (which is rare) I prefer regular.
  2. What’s one thing you want everyone to know about you? I am just really honored people are enjoying my blog!
  3. If you could write a best selling novel, what would it be about? Not sure, but it would be a mix of Urban Fantasy and Historical Fiction
  4. Where do you want to visit on your next vacation? Machu Picchu in Peru
  5. Why did you decide to start a blog? To have a space for myself to share my art
  6. What is your dream job? I already have it: motherhood and art
  7. If you could change one thing about the world…what would it be? Just one?
  8. Yourself in one word: Optimistic
  9. Your favorite color? Aubergine
  10. How do you see your life ten years from now? Raising my family and creating my art
  11. The last thing you do before bed? Cuddle and kiss my infant daughter

11-12 Blogs I Nominate

The following are some great blogs I’ve been reading in no particular order (it’s been really hard narrowing it down to 11 nominees!):

If for some reason I nominated any blog that has more than 200 followers, it’s because I couldn’t figure out how many followers you have on your website. (BTW, there’s no obligation to participate. I just wanted to let everyone know I think your blog is worth reading.)

11 Questions for the Nominees

  1. What’s your favorite book?
  2. Is there an animal you feel akin to?
  3. If you could go anywhere tomorrow, where would it be?
  4. What item, person or animal could you not live without?
  5. Earth? Air? Fire? Water?
  6. Do you prefer daytime or nighttime?
  7. In one word how do your friends or family see you?
  8. Is the glass half full or half empty?
  9. During what century would you wish to live?
  10. What’s your favorite scent?
  11. Vampire or Werewolf? (Not Twilight related!)

I really hope you all take some time to read and enjoy these blogs!

Thank you again, Abbie from In My Roots.

~ Elizabeth Lorayne