Newton: Book summary and reviews of Newton by Peter Ackroyd

Newton

Ackroyd's Brief Lives

By Peter Ackroyd

Newton
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2008,
    192 pages.

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Book Summary

Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) is said to have made his greatest contributions to science in 1665-66 while at his parents’ home in Lincolnshire escaping the Great Plague (which had closed the universities). It was at this fruitful time that he formulated calculus, hit upon the idea of gravity and performed experiments which showed that white light was made up of different coloured rays.

Newton wrote Principia, one of the most important books in the history of science, in which he proved the “laws of motion.” He was also interested in the movements of the planets and designed his own telescope, and was as passionate about astrology as he was about astronomy. Newton dabbled in alchemy, and used the Bible to work out that the date of the earth’s creation was 3,500 B.C.

Newton is a wonderful subject for a writer with Peter Ackroyd’s imagination and flair: the alchemist, the magician, the thinker light years ahead of his time. Einstein wrote of Newton: “In one person, he combined the experimenter, the theorist, the mechanic and, not least, the artist in exposition.”

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Ackroyd does a commendable job in this introduction to a very complex genius." - Publishers Weekly.

"Ackroyd draws a finely detailed miniature of the man renowned for his genius and for his ambition." - Library Journal.

"Ackroyd gives enough of the historical context to make Newton's salient character traits and greatest accomplishments clear to the modern reader. A slim but solid introduction, akin to James Gleick's Isaac Newton (2003)." - Kirkus Reviews.

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Author Information

Peter Ackroyd Author Biography

Photo © Charles Hopkinson

Novelist, biographer, and poet Peter Ackroyd was born in London on October 5, 1949.

He graduated from Clare College, Cambridge, and studied at Yale University as a Mellon Fellow, where he completed Notes for a New Culture: An Essay on Modernism, published in 1976. On his return from Yale, he worked for The Spectator magazine in London as literary editor (1973-7), then as joint managing editor (1978-82) and film critic. He is chief book reviewer for The Times newspaper and a regular broadcaster on radio. He has been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature since 1984.

Equally acclaimed for both his inventive biographies and his formally diverse fiction, Ackroyd blends past and present, fact and fiction in his writing.

He also displays a genius for literary impersonation, both in his ...

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