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Among the most influential, world-renowned scientists during the early decades of the twentieth century was the Dutch astronomer Jacobus Cornelius Kapteyn (1851-1922). Kapteyn's influence resulted from and contributed to the golden age of Dutch science. In the words of the brilliant English astrophysicist, Arthur S. Eddington: 'Holland has given many scientific leaders to the world: it is doubtful whether any other nation in proportion to its size can show so fine a record. J.C. Kapteyn was among the most distinguished of its sons — a truly great astronomer'.
The present text is an English translation of Kapteyn's 1928 (Dutch) biography by his daughter Henrietta Hertzsprung-Kapteyn. While the original biography suffers from — but in many ways is also enriched by — the emotional excesses of a loving daughter writing of her famous father, this new translation provides an annotated assessment of Kapteyn as family man, scientist and world leader. This new volume also opens up to a much wider reading public many of the enormously rich contributions, not only of Kapteyn the man but also of the Dutch, to the emergence of astronomy as a major intellectual force in the world. Perhaps equally important, the translated biography reproduces many biographical and technical details from Kapteyn's correspondence with numerous other scientists and scholars. Access to the Kapteyn biography becomes an archival treasure for future studies dealing with Kapteyn himself, as well as with the history of both modern and Dutch astronomy and with the rise of international astronomy.