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
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.
"Fascinating. . . . Jardine takes a complex view, according Hooke with the respect and dignity that eluded him for so long. . . and] with this compelling and empathetic portrait, she succeeds in making a convincing case for his place in history. . . as] a founding father in Europe's scientific revolution." -- Los Angeles Times
The brilliant, largely forgotten maverick Robert Hooke was an engineer, surveyor, architect, and inventor who worked tirelessly with his intimate friend Christopher Wren to rebuild London after the Great Fire of 1666. He was the first Curator of Experiments at the Royal Society, and his engravings of natural phenomena seen under the new microscope appeared in his masterpiece, the acclaimed Micrographia, one of the most influential volumes of the day.
But Hooke's irascible temper and his passionate idealism proved fatal for his relationships with important political figures, most notably Sir Isaac Newton: their quarrel is legendary. As a result, historical greatness eluded Robert Hooke. Eminent historian Lisa Jardine does this original thinker of indefatigable curiosity and imagination justice and allows him to take his place as a major figure in the seventeenth century intellectual and scientific revolution.
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.