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Exceedingly average Englishwoman, 1852-1963, also a secret mistress of the great British biologist and theorist Charles Darwin.

Emma Bounting Woolmoor was born in 1852 to Harold Bounting and Louise Bounting (maiden name Louise Cocking) in the Leeds suburb of Harrogate, Yorkshire, England. She attended primary school for a short number of years, before finishing her education to aid her family in the running of their dairy farm (long since gone).

She was married in 1870 to a Jonathan Woolmoor, a Leeds cigar peddler, and dabbler in the natural scientists. Mr. Woolmoor was particularly interested in the discovery of natural taxonomies, and devoted a great deal of his time to the classification of the birds native to Yorkshire and the Pennines. His association with the Leeds School of Medicine (founded 1831) was in no certain official capacity; he was more of a hanger-out when time allowed him. He attended many of the important lectures at the school, which was later (by a 1904 royal decree granting independence to the University by King Edward VII) to become what is now known as the University of Leeds. In March of 1876 the famous scientist James Clerk Maxwell gave a lecture at the university, which by now had affiliations with the Yorkshire College of Science. The register for this event indicates that it was attended by both Jonathan Woolmoor and his wife, who signed the name Emma Bounting Woolmoor next to her man's.

Jonathan Woolmoor died in 1912 at the age of sixty six. His wife was survive him for another half century. She died in April of the year 1963, 111 years old. She was survived by her two children Laura Woolmoor and Louise Cocking Woolmoor, both were unmarried and are now deceased, thus ending the family story. Her life was rather uneventful. By all accounts she was a wonderful mother and a loving wife, who made provisions for her family and friends whenever possible. In years after the Maxwell lecture she became a favorite guest at lectures in the natural sciences held at the School and College. Her husband's queer oafishness was accepted there due to the natural fineness of his wife's good graces.

It was not until after her death that the remarkable fact--at least to a historian--about Mrs. Woolmoor's life was revealed. A London historian researching the historical reception of Charles Darwin's work throughout his native Great Britain discovered a curious fact relating to his 1871 visit to the Leeds area.. Though relatively sick at the time from the digestive illnesses contracted on his visits to South American, apparently the great theorist of biology and anthropology still had enough vigor for life that he was able to embark on a short love affair with Mrs. Woolmoor. The affair apparently lasted only the duration of two of Darwin's visits, the 1871 lecture, and a visit the following spring for 'his own recreation'. He wrote to her once in the span between the visits and wrote of his 'great affection for her', 'the necessity of secrecy', and 'the pain of the sorrow of immense solitude'. Darwin's health deteriorating, and his heart certainly sorrowful at the fact that Mrs. Woolmoor would not leave her family for him, he never returned to Leeds. Mrs. Woolmoor never spoke of the event, but kept the letter in a safe place and, later in her life, wrote her remembrance of her encounters with Darwin on a page of A4, and placed it in the envelope. The letter and short memoir were recovered only by accident; she placed the envelope in the pages of her deceased husband's diary, which was later sent to and kept by (in a storeroom in an antechamber in the beautiful circular library at the University the department of biology, as it contained items of historical interest regarding Mr. Woolmoor's research on native species of the area--though most of his conjectures appear slightly misguided.

Warning. This write-up is a work of fiction. There was no such person. - Ed.

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