Sir Isaac Newton's notebook

Contributed by The Fitzwilliam Museum

A page from Sir Isaac Newton's notebook showing his accounts. © The Fitzwilliam Museum

Newton wrote parts of this private journal in a secret code, which historians only cracked in the 1960sOne of history's greatest minds, Sir Isaac Newton's 'discovery' of gravity established him as the father of modern science. This calf-leather bound notebook is a private diary kept by Newton in his twenties while at Trinity College, Cambridge - during which time the plague hit the city - and contains everything from Newton's thoughts on optics to his everyday activities. Its accounts section reveals what the great scientist spent his money on: academic purchases such as prisms and lathes appear alongside coins for the laundry, oranges and beer in a local tavern. Newton also recorded his secret confessions, written in a cryptic shorthand code only deciphered in 1964. 'Using Wilfords towel to spare my own'; 'robbing my mother's box of plums and sugar'; 'caring for worldly things more than God' - from petty moods to spiritual conflict, these guilty admissions reveal the human character behind the legendary historical figure.

Comments are closed for this object

Most of the content on A History of the World is created by the contributors, who are the museums and members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC or the British Museum. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site’s House Rules please Flag This Object.

About this object

Click a button to explore other objects in the timeline

Location
Culture
Period

1665 to 1668

Theme
Size
H:
12.5cm
W:
7.5cm
Material

View more objects from people in Cambridgeshire.

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.