Whipple Library

Isaac Newton (1643–1727) and Newtonianism:
Popularisation and canonisation via the medium of print

An exhibition of Whipple Library books curated by HPS Part II students: Anne Carter, Natalie Christie, Alastair Cliff and Nick Goodwin. Assisted by Jenny Rampling, Simon Schaffer and Tim Eggington.

Portrait of Isaac Newton

Black and white stipple engraving by S. Freeman from portrait by Godfrey Kneller (1646–1723). Reproduced from Whipple Museum Wh.3525. Image © The Whipple Museum.

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This is an online version of an exhibition of Whipple Library books, displayed in summer 2011. Following brainstorming sessions with Professor Simon Schaffer, our student curators (led by Jenny Rampling) used Whipple Library rare books to show the diverse modes through which the idea of Newton and Newtonianism permeated 18th-century thinking, via books and publishing. Within the confines of our small Library display cases four significant themes were identified in children's literature, popular science, fashion and academia. These indicate just some of the settings and agendas in which the name and work of Newton was promoted, appropriated and presented to 18th- and 19th-century readers.