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Robert Hooke

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Robert Hooke, the 17th-century scientist with a wide variety of interests from elasticity to microscopes who fell out with Newton.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the life and work of Robert Hooke (1635-1703) who worked for Robert Boyle and was curator of experiments at the Royal Society. The engraving of a flea, above, is taken from his Micrographia which caused a sensation when published in 1665. Sometimes remembered for his disputes with Newton, he studied the planets with telescopes and snowflakes with microscopes. He was an early proposer of a theory of evolution, discovered light diffraction with a wave theory to explain it and felt he was rarely given due credit for his discoveries.


David Wootton
Anniversary Professor of History at the University of York

Patricia Fara
President Elect of the British Society for the History of Science


Rob Iliffe
Professor of History of Science at Oxford University

Producer: Simon Tillotson.

Available now

43 minutes

Last on

Thu 18 Feb 2016 21:30


Robert Hooke – Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Micrographia by Robert Hooke

Micrographia text – Project Gutenberg

Cutlerian Lectures by Robert Hooke (published 1679) including his texts Helioscopes, Lampas, Microscopium and Cometa

Lampas by Robert Hooke (published 1677) - Text Creation Partnership 

A Description of Helioscopes and Some Other Instruments by Robert Hooke (published 1676)

The Hooke Folio Online

‘The return of the Hooke folio’ by Robyn Adams and Lisa Jardine – The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science

‘England’s Leonardo’ by Allan Chapman

The Posthumous Works of Robert Hooke by Richard Waller

Newton’s letters including letters to Hooke (most interestingly 18th November 1672) 

Memoirs of the Life, Writings and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton by David Brewster (published 1855)

Robert Hooke – Wikipedia



Jim Bennett, Michael Cooper, Michael Hunter and Lisa Jardine, London's Leonardo: The Life and Work of Robert Hooke (Oxford University Press, 2003)

Thomas Birch, History of the Royal Society of London (Gale ECCO, 2010)

Allan Chapman, England’s Leonardo: Robert Hooke and the Seventeenth-Century Scientific Revolution (CRC Press, 2004)

Michael Cooper, A More Beautiful City: Robert Hooke and the Rebuilding of London After the Great Fire (Sutton Publishing Ltd, 2003)

Margaret Espinasse, Robert Hooke (University of California Press, 1962)

Robert Gunther, Oxford and the History of Science (Oxford University Press, 1934)

Robert Hooke (eds. Henry W. Adams and Walter Robinson), The Diary Of Robert Hooke (Taylor, 1935)

Stephen Inwood, The Man Who Knew Too Much: The Strange & Inventive Life of Robert Hooke 1635-1703 (Macmillan, 2002)

Lisa Jardine, The Curious Life of Robert Hooke: The Man Who Measured London (HarperCollins, 2003)

David Wootton, The Invention of Science: A New History of the Scientific Revolution (Allen Lane, 2015)



Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest David Wootton
Interviewed Guest Patricia Fara
Interviewed Guest Robert Iliffe
Producer Simon Tillotson


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