Constance Lowell (1863-1954)
wife to Percival Lowell
Born Constance Savage Keith, the young Constance made her name in the unlikely field of real-estate speculation, buying promising Back Bay properties and, having rehabilitated them, selling them to prominent or socially ambitious families. Known for her argumentative and contentious nature, her marriage to Percival Lowell in 1908 came as a surprise to everyone, especially those who knew the famous astronomer – who had long been thought to be permanently partnered with his loyal secretary Wrexie Louise Leonard. When Lowell died in 1916, Constance Lowell’s quarrelsome and bizarre nature took a turn for the worse. Not only did she engage the Lowell estate in a ten-year probate battle in an attempt to prevent much of her husband’s fortune going to support the Observatory, she became willfully peculiar and increasingly reclusive, often pretending to be blind. Even long before it was found, Constance Lowell was determined to name Planet X after her late husband; she wished the planet to be named either Percival or Lowell.
Roger Putnam has written me about the intensely interesting observation that you are experiencing—that it may be Planet X I pray. Mr. Putnam asked me if I had any thoughts about the name. He said he had thought of “Diana”.
But no. If it is not to be Lowell or Percival my choice is Zeus.
Zeus being the father of Aries—Aries being identified with Mars—it seemed appropriate—and Dr. Lowell was born in the sign of Aries—it is Dr. Lowell’s planet after all his years of looking for it. And it is only right that it was his to name after himself and now my right as he is dead and gone, in the Air of the Universe—and he was like a Zeus—