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Dorothy Helen Rayner

Dorothy Helen Rayner

The basics
Quick Facts
Gender female
Birth 3 February 1912 (Teddington, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, Greater London, London)
Death 31 December 2003 (Leeds, Leeds, West Yorkshire, Yorkshire and the Humber)
Star sign AquariusAquarius
The details

Dorothy Helen Rayner (3 February 1912 – 31 December 2003) was a British geologist who became an authority on the stratigraphy of the British Isles while working at University of Leeds. In 1975 she was awarded the prestigious Lyell Medal from the Geological Society of London for her contributions to the field.


Rayner was born in Teddington, Middlesex, the second of three children of Edwin Rayner, a senior figure at the National Physical Laboratory, and his wife Agnes (née Styles). She was educated at Bedales School, then read Natural Sciences at Girton College, Cambridge, graduating with a BA (1st Class) in 1935. From 1936 to 1938, she carried out research into vertebrate palaeontology, mainly at Cambridge, but also at University College, London, as a Hertha Ayrton By-Fellow. She received her doctorate from Cambridge in 1938.

In 1939 she accepted a lecturing post in the Department of Geology at the University of Leeds, which owing to the exigencies of war comprised only three people. From then up until to the 1960s she taught stratigraphy and palaeontology. She was promoted to Senior Lecturer in the early 1960s. In 1967, after the publication of The Stratigraphy of the British Isles, she was recognized as a major authority in the field and was widely consulted on matters of stratigraphical procedure. Rayner eventually retired from teaching in 1977, having spent her entire career at Leeds.

Rayner was also closely associated with the Yorkshire Geological Society, serving as principal editor of the Society's Proceedings from 1958 to 1968, and as President in 1969–1970. Together with J. E. Hemingway, she co-edited the Society's The Geology and Mineral Resources of Yorkshire in 1974. She was elected an Honorary Member in 1974, and was awarded the Sorby Medal in 1977. Rayner also received the Clough Medal from the Edinburgh Geological Society in 1973, and the Lyell Medal from the Geological Society of London in 1975. She was also a member of the Geologists' Association for 66 years, from 1936 until her death.

Following her retirement Rayner combined her love of botany with her surveying skills to create plant distribution maps of Harlow Carr Gardens, near Harrogate, for the Royal Horticultural Society.

Rayner died on 31 December 2003, following a stroke at her home in Leeds, West Yorkshire.

Selected publications

  • — (1948). "The structure of certain Jurassic holostean fishes with special reference to their neurocrania". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. London: Royal Society. 233 (601). 
  • — (1953). "The Lower Carboniferous Rocks in the North of England: a review". Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society. Wakefield: Yorkshire Geological Society. 28 (4). 
  • — (1963). "The Achanarras limestone of the Middle Old Red Sandstone, Caithness, Scotland". Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society. Wakefield: Yorkshire Geological Society. 34 (2). 
  • — (1967). The Stratigraphy of the British Isles. London: Cambridge University Press. 
  • — & Hemingway, John Edwin, eds. (1974). The Geology and Mineral Resources of Yorkshire. Leeds, England: Yorkshire Geological Society. 
  • — (1982). English language and usage in geology : a personal compilation. Leeds, England: Yorkshire Geological Society. 

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