Henry Oldenburg: Shaping the Royal Society

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Henry Oldenburg, born in 1619 in Bremen, Germany, first came to England as a diplomat on a mission to see Oliver Cromwell. He stayed on in England and in 1662 became the Secretary of the Royal Society, and its best known member to the entire learned world of his time. Through his extensive correspondence, now published, he disseminated the Society's ideals and methods at home and abroad. He fostered and encouraged the talents of many scientists later to be far more famous than he, including Newton, Flamsteed, Malpighi, and Leeuwenhoek with whom, as with many others, he developed real friendship. He founded and edited the Philosophical Transactions, the world's oldest scientific journal.

His career sheds new light on the intellectual world of his time, especially its scientific aspects, and on the development of the Royal Society; his private life expands our knowledge of social mobility, the urban society, and the religious views of his time.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Hall's book is much more than a biography—it is simultaneously a history of the early Royal Society, to which Oldenburg devoted the better part of his life....More than 2,900 of Oldenburg's letters to and from some 70 correspondents were studied."—Choice

"Thanks to the work of Marie Boas Hall, the poignancy of the extinction of Oldenburg's line can be contrasted with the achievements of his 20-year career in the service of natural knowledge. ... In Hall's hands, Oldenburg is restored to his full humanity as well as to the intellectual reputation that he deserved."—Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198510536
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/1/2002
  • Pages: 386
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Imperial College, London
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Table of Contents

I: The rise to prominence
1. The slow development of a diplomat 1619-54
2. Learning the art of scientific communication 1655-61
3. Towards a settled life 1661-5
4. The difficult years 1665-7
II: The correspondence: method and content
5. The promoter of philosophical intelligence 1665-70
6. Scientific diplomacy 1669-77 (1) Newton's ambassador
7. Scientific diplomacy 1669-77 (2) Huygens, mathematics, mechanics, and horology
8. The encouragement of talent 1667-77
III: Personal relations
9. From friends to enemies: Hooke and Oldenburg 1662-77
10. Colleagues, friends, and family.
11. Aftermath
Appendix: The fate of Oldenburg's children (with the assistance of P.D. Buchanan)
Abbreviated titles
Brief Bibliography

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