Hertha Ayerton (1854 – 1923) was born Phoebe Sarah Marks and went by Sarah until, as a teenager, she adopted the name Hertha, after the heroine of a novel by Swedish feminist writer Frederika Bremer. Hertha was a smart girl and a good scholar. Her mother sent her to London to be educated at a school run by her aunt and uncle, and Hertha also worked as a governess, sending money home to help support her mother and siblings.
Her education continued, thanks to Barbara Lee Smith Bodichon, co-founder of Girton College at Cambridge University, the first university college for women in England. Hertha worked as a math tutor after college, and continued her studies at Finsbury Technical College, where she met her husband, Professor William Ayrton.
William and Hertha did not study together, as William knew if they worked together, he would be credited instead of Hertha.