This book gives a fresh view of the formative years of Britain's oldest scientific institution, the Royal Society of London, founded in 1660. It consists of a series of detailed case-studies of key episodes in the Society's early evolution, based on the extensive and illuminating documentation that survives. Taken together, these essays give a telling picture of the actual process by which this seminal institution developed. They illustrate disagreements among its leading members as to the proper purpose of such an organisation; the constraints imposed by practical difficulties and external circumstances; and, above all, the extent to which the experience of trying to run a scientific institution for the first time proved educative in itself. MICHAEL HUNTER is Reader in History, Birkbeck College, University of London, where he has taught since 1976. He is the author of various publications on the history of the early Royal Society and the history of ideas in the late 17th century.
Hunter's reputation as one of the foremost students of Restoration science in England can only be further enhanced by this volume. NATURE For anyone interested in the scientific revolution these essays are compulsory reading. Elegantly written and carefully researched, they are a welcome addition to the already extensive literature on the early years of the Royal Society. HISTORY Hunter brings a wealth of manuscript material — much of it new and some of it reproduced in the book — to bear on these often complex questions about the institutionalization of science in seventeenth-century England. Margaret J. Osler Every student of the Royal Society, of Restoration natural philosophy and of the early institutionalization of science will read with profit this work of the highest standard of historical scholarship. EHR