Visions of Science: Books and Readers at the Dawn of the Victorian Age

ISBN : 9780199675265

James Secord
320 Pages
162 x 238 mm
Pub date
Mar 2014
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The early 1830s witnessed an extraordinary transformation in British political, literary, and intellectual life. New scientific disciplines begin to take shape, while new concepts of the natural world were hotly debated. James Secord, Director of the Darwin Correspondence Project, captures this unique moment of change by exploring key books, including Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology, Mary Somerville's Connexion of the Physical Sciences, and Thomas Carlyle's satirical work, Sartor Resartus. Set in the context of electoral reform and debates about the extension of education to meet the demands of the coming age of empire and industry, Secord shows how the books were published, disseminated, admired, attacked and satirized.


1. Fantastic Voyages: Humphry Davys Consolations in Travel
2. The Economy of Intelligence: Charles Babbages Reflections on the Decline of Science
3. The Conduct of Everyday Life: John Herschels Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy
4. Mathematics for the Million?: Mary Somervilles On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences
5. A Philosophy for a New Science: Charles Lyells Principles of Geology
6. The Problem of Mind: George Combes Constitution of Man
7. The Torch of Science: Thomas Carlyles Sartor Resartus
Further Reading
Bibliography of Works after 1900

About the author: 

James Secord is Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge, Director of the Darwin Correspondence Project, and a fellow of Christ's College. His research and teaching is on the history of science from the late eighteenth century to the present. He has published several books, including Controversy in Victorian Geology (Princeton, 1986) and editions of the works of Mary Somerville, Charles Lyell, and Robert Chambers. Victorian Sensation: The Extraordinary Publication, Reception, and Secret Authorship of Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (Chicago, 2000), an account of the public debates about evolution in the mid-nineteenth century, won the Pfizer Prize of the History of Science Society and the award for the best book in history from the Association of American Publishers' Professional/Scholarly Publishing Division.

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