Edwin A. Abbott, 1838-1926


Biographical note

English schoolmaster and theologian, best known as the author of the mathematical satire and religious allegory Flatland.

He was educated at the City of London School and at St John's College, Cambridge, where he took the highest honors in classics, mathematics and theology, and became fellow of his college. He succeeded G. F. Mortimer as headmaster of the City of London School in 1865 at the early age of twenty-six. He retired in 1889, and devoted himself to literary and theological pursuits. Dr. Abbott's liberal inclinations in theology were prominent both in his educational views and in his books. His Shakespearian Grammar (1870) is a permanent contribution to English philology. In 1885 he published a life of Francis Bacon. His theological writings include three anonymously published religious romances - Philochristus (1878), Onesimus (1882), and Sitanus (1906).

Written under the pseudonym "a square", Flatland offered pointed observations on the social hierarchy of Victorian culture. However, the novella's more enduring contribution is its examination of dimensions; in a foreword to one of the many publications of the novella, noted science writer Isaac Asimov described Flatland as "The best introduction one can find into the manner of perceiving dimensions." As such, the novella is still popular amongst mathematics, physics and computer science students.

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