# Isaac Newton, 1642-1727

### Biographical note

Natural philosopher, born at Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, the son of a small landed proprietor, and educated at the
Grammar School of Grantham and at Trinity College, Cambridge. By propounding the binomial theorem, the differential
calculus, and the integral calculus, he began in 1665 the wonderful series of discoveries in pure mathematics, optics,
and physics, which place him in the first rank of the philosophers of all time. He was elected Lucasian Prof. of
Mathematics at Cambridge in 1669, and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1672, over which body he presided for 25 years
from 1703. In the same year his new theory of flight was published in a paper before the society. His epoch-making
discovery of the law of universal gravitation was not promulgated until 1687, though the first glimpse of it had come
to him so early as 1665. The discovery of fluxions, which he claimed, was contested by Leibnitz, and led to a long and
bitter controversy between the two philosophers. He twice sat in Parliament for his University, and was Master of the
Mint from 1699, in which capacity he presented reports on the coinage. He was knighted in 1705, and died at Kensington
in 1727. For a short time, after an unfortunate accident by which a number of invaluable manuscripts were burned, he
suffered from some mental aberration. His writings fall into two classes, scientific and theological. In the first are
included his famous treatises, *Light and Colours* (1672), *Optics* (1704), the *Principia*
(1687), in Latin, its full title being *PhilosophiĆ¦ Naturalis Principia Mathematica*. In the second are his
*Observations upon the Prophecies of Holy Writ* and *An Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of
Scripture*. In character Newton was remarkable for simplicity, humility, and gentleness, with a great distaste for
controversy, in which, nevertheless, he was repeatedly involved.

[From *A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature* by John W.
Cousin, 1910]

### Works

- Newton's Principia: The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy; To which is added, Newton's System of the World / translated by Andrew Motte [first American edition; New York: Daniel Adee, c1846]
- Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica [Latin]
- Opticks: or, A Treatise of the Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions and Colours of Light; Also Two Treatises of the Species and Magnitude of Curvilinear Figures (first edition, 1704)