Hypatia was born about 370 in Alexandria, Egypt. She was the first woman to make a substantial contribution to the development of mathematics.
Hypatia was the daughter of the mathematician and philosopher Theon. She became head of the Platonist school at Alexandria. She came to symbolise learning and science which the early Christians identified with paganism. She became the focal point of riots between Christians and non-Christians.
In 412 Cyril (later St. Cyril) became patriarch of Alexandria. A few years later(in 415), according to one report, Hypatia was brutally murdered by the Nitrian monks who were a fanatical sect of Christians who were supporters of Cyril. According to another account (by Socrates Scholasticus) she was killed by an Alexandrian mob under the leadership of the reader Peter.
Charles Kingsley (best known as the author of The Water Babies ) made her the heroine of one of his novels.
Hypatia wrote commentaries on Diophantus's Arithmetica , on Apollonius' Conics and on Ptolemy's astronomical works. All Hypatia's work is lost except for its titles and some references to it. However no purely philosophical work is known, only work in mathematics and astronomy.
Some letters of Synesius to Hypatia exist. These ask her advice on the construction of an astrolabe and a hydroscope.