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The Curious Life of Robert Hooke: The Man Who Measured Londonby Lisa Jardine
Synopses & Reviews
The brilliant, largely forgotten maverick Robert Hooke was an engineer, surveyor, architect and inventor who was appointed London's Chief Surveyor after the Great Fire of 1666. Throughout the 1670s he worked tirelessly with his intimate friend Christopher Wren to rebuild London, personally designing many notable public and private buildings, including the Monument to the Fire. He was the first Curator of Experiments at the Royal Society, and the author and illustrator of Micrographia, a lavishly illustrated volume of fascinating engravings of natural phenomena as seen under the new microscope. He designed an early balance spring watch, was a virtuoso performer of public anatomical dissections of animals, and kept himself going with liberal doses of cannabis and "poppy water"(laudanum).
Hooke's personal diaries — cryptically confessional as anything Pepys wrote — record a life rich with melodrama. He came to London as a fatherless boy of thirteen to seek his fortune as a painter, rising by his wits to become an intellectual celebrity. He never married but formed a long-running illicit liaison with his niece. A dandy, boaster, workaholic, insomniac and inveterate socializer in London's most fashionable circles, Hooke had an irascible temper, and his passionate idealism proved fatal for his relationships with men of influence — most notably Sir Isaac Newton, who, after one violent argument, wiped Hooke's name from the Royal Society records and destroyed his portrait.
In this lively and absorbing biography, Lisa Jardine at last does Hooke and his achievements justice. Illuminating London's critical role in the emergence of modern science, she rediscovers and decodes a great original thinker of indefatigable curiosity and imagination, a major figure in the seventeenth-century intellectual and scientific revolution.
"Sure to become the standard life of Hooke, Jardine's sympathetic study will please readers interested in the early years of modern science and scientific biographies." Publishers Weekly
"A terrific work, notable for its gravity and humor, scholarship and popular appeal." Kirkus Reviews
"Jardine lifts [Hooke] from obscurity in an easily read and heavily annotated work that is more comprehensive than Jim Bennett's London's Leonardo." Library Journal
Book News Annotation:
Jardine (Renaissance studies, Queen Mary- U. of London) draws on Hooke's diaries to chronicle the life of a quirky but under-rated polymath who contributed to many fields including the rebuilding of London after the fire of 1666. The book includes period illustrations. It was first published by HarperCollins in Great Britain in 2003, and this is the first US edition.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From eminent historian Jardine comes a major biography of Robert Hooke, scientist, inventor, architect, mathematician, draftsman, and key figure in the emergence of modern science in the 17th century.
About the Author
Lisa Jardine is the author of The Curious Life of Robert Hooke: The Man Who Measured Londonand On a Grander Scale: The Outstanding Life and Tumultuous Times of Sir Christopher Wren, as well as books on Erasmus and Sir Francis Bacon. She is Centenary Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary, University of London, and Director of the AHRB Research Centre for Editing Lives and Letters. She is also an Honorary Fellow of Kings College, Cambridge, and has judged many literary awards, including the Orange Prize and the Booker Prize.
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