McClain, Molly L. 1966-
McCLAIN, Molly L. 1966-
CAREER: Fairfield University, Fairfield, CT, lecturer, 1994-95; Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA, visiting assistant professor, 1996-97; University of San Diego, San Diego, CA, assistant professor of history, 1997—.
MEMBER: American Historical Association, American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies, Omohundro Institute for Early American History and Culture, North American Conference on British Studies, Elizabethan Club and Mory's (Yale University), Phi Alpha Theta.
AWARDS, HONORS: Sarah and Mendel Cooperman fellowship, 1984-87; Jacob K. Javits fellowship, 1988-92; Mellon Foundation research fellowship, 1991-92; faculty research grants, University of San Diego, 1996-2000; Winterthur research fellowship, 2000-01.
Schaum's Quick Guide to Writing Great Essays, McGraw Hill (New York, NY), 1999.
Beaufort: The Duke and His Duchess, 1657-1715, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2001.
Contributor of articles to conferences and journals.
SIDELIGHTS: A native of San Diego, California, Molly McClain teaches history at the University of San Diego. She received her B.A. from the University of Chicago and earned a Ph.D. in history from Yale University. Her areas of specialization are Britain and colonial America, and the history of science. McClain has been awarded numerous research grants and is an active participant in academic conferences, with several papers to her credit in addition to her two published books.
McClain's book, Beaufort: The Duke and His Duchess, 1657-1715, grew out of her dissertation work done at Yale University under the supervision of David Underdown. Published in 2001, the study gives a detailed portrait of aristocratic life as it moved through a state of transition during the Restoration. McClain has mined the duke's letters and papers to piece together the story of a complex existence.
Henry Somerset, Duke of Beaufort (1629-1715), was a member of the courts of Charles II and later his brother, James II. Kevin Sharpe in his review of the book in the Times Literary Supplement recounted the duke's varying political fortunes, which, in the end, due to shifting alliances at court, left him with relatively little power. Beaufort argues that the duke and duchess formed a powerful relationship that at least ensured their survival, if not eminence, during the uncertainty that followed the English civil war. McClain's research reveals that the duke, often away from home, left the maintenance of Badminton House in Gloucestershire and the raising of their thirteen children to Mary, the duchess. Although she frequently suffered from periods of depression, she maintained the home, raised a militia and managed the finances. Mary's great interest in botany led her to propagate numerous exotic plants in Badminton's greenhouse. She was the patroness of prominent botanists and naturalists of the day and was the driving force behind the creation of a historically important twelve-volume herbarium. McClain indicates that the botanical work granted the duchess, a deeply religious woman, some relief from depression by allowing her to experience divine grace through the study and contemplation of the physical world. The formal gardens at Badminton House, the design of which is based on the Copernican universe, was recorded for posterity by artist Leonard Knyff in 1720 and published in Britannia Illustrata. A review of Beaufort in Publishers Weekly drew attention to the fact that, despite the disappointment of the duke's political hopes, he and his wife created a legacy through their remarkable home and gardens at Badminton House. Reviewers of the work indicated that it is designed for use by readers with an interest in the area, rather than for a general audience.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Directory of American Scholars, ninth edition, Volume1: History, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Isis, March, 2002, Lisa T. Sarasohn, review of Beau-fort: The Duke and His Duchess, 1657-1715, p. 123.
Publishers Weekly, May 28, 2001, review of Beaufort, p. 65.
Times Literary Supplement, November 23, 2001, Kevin Sharpe, review of Beaufort, p. 19.
University of San Diego Web site, http://home. sandiego.edu/ (May 24, 2003), "Molly A. McClain."*