The private life of Isaac Newton

A public history of science lecture with historian Sarah Dry, as part of Open House Weekend

newton Portrait of Isaac Newton by François Boucher (1741) Credit: © The Royal Society

Event details

When Isaac Newton died in 1727, he left behind more than ten million written words on religion, alchemy and church history. Unseen by almost anyone else during his lifetime, these private writings had the potential to undermine not just Newton's reputation but science itself.

In this lecture, the nearly 300 year history of these papers, which have been suppressed, scattered and painstakingly reconstructed by scholars, will be shared. Full of surprising and eccentric characters, from the co-discoverer of Neptune to a Jewish Biblical scholar to renowned economist John Maynard Keynes, the story of Newton’s papers is also the story of changing attitudes towards the private and public lives of scientists, the relationship between science and religion, and the role of science in society.

Attending this event

This event, part of Open House Weekend, is free to attend and open to all. No tickets are required. Doors open at 12.30pm and seats will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

This event is fully accessible. Further information about accessibility is available.

Recorded audio will be available on this page a few days after the event.

Enquiries: Contact the events team.

The private life of Isaac Newton 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK

Events coming up

  • The interaction of fire and mankind 14 September 2015 at The Royal Society, London Scientific discussion meeting organised by Professor Andrew Scott, Professor William Chaloner FRS, Professor Claire Belcher and Dr Chris Roos
  • The interaction of fire and mankind - further discussion 16 September 2015 at The Royal Society at Chicheley Hall, home of the Kavli Royal Society International Centre, Buckinghamshire Scientific discussion meeting organised by Professor Andrew Scott, Professor William Chaloner FRS, Dr Claire Belcher and Professor Chris Roos
  • Open House Weekend 2015 19 September 2015 at The Royal Society, London The Royal Society's building will be open to the public on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 September 2015.

For more events please see the events diary.

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