Mary Anning was clearly one of the most significant characters of eighteenth century science and possibly of all time, particularly in the realm of palaeontology. I am not sure that she is quite as unknown (certainly in the UK) as the American author this excellent little biography claims, but she certainly should be better known.
William Boyd Dawkins is an immensely fascinating character, who dominated British geology during his time, and yet is mostly forgotten today. He received a professorship and a knighthood, along with many top awards, and yet Mark Wright, in this excellent biography, describes him as “a liar and probably a cheat”.
John L Morton certainly came to popular geological publishing by an interesting and circuitous route. Trained as a pilot, he flew Herons, Viscounts, Comets, Boeing 707s and Lockheed TriStars for British European Airways and subsequently published a book on aspects of flying for an airline.
Roderick Impey Murchison must have been a remarkable man. He was one of the first people to rigorously use the principles of stratigraphy discovered by William Smith, which allowed him to erect the Silurian system and to name about 123myrs of geological time.