Victorian era

Charles Wheatstone – From the Concertina to the Telegraph

Charles Wheatstone – From the Concertina to the Telegraph

On February 6, 1802, Charles Wheatstone, English scientist and inventor of many scientific breakthroughs of the Victorian era was born. He is well known for his research in acoustics, electricity, and telegraphy. Family Background and Early Youth Well, if you don’t happen to be an engineer or a physicist, then you have probably never heard of Charles Wheatstone. But we will show you that he was really some remarkable fellow. Charles Wheatstone was born…
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Lewis Carroll – Mathematician and Creator of the Wonderland

Lewis Carroll – Mathematician and Creator of the Wonderland

On January 27, 1832, British mathematician, photographer, and children’s book author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known under his pen name Lewis Carroll, creator of the stories about ‘Alice in Wonderland‘, was born. With his ability for pun, logic and fantasy he managed to captivate a wide audience. His works, known as nonsense literature, have remained popular to this day and have influenced not only children’s literature, but also writers such as James Joyce, surrealists…
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Herbert Spencer and Social Darwinism

Herbert Spencer and Social Darwinism

On April 27, 1820, English philosopher, biologist, anthropologist, sociologist, and prominent classical liberal political theorist of the Victorian era Herbert Spencer was born. Spencer is best known for the expression “survival of the fittest“, which he coined in Principles of Biology (1864), after reading Charles Darwin‘s On the Origin of Species.[4] This term strongly suggests natural selection, yet as Spencer extended evolution into realms of sociology and ethics, he also made use…
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Augustus Pitt Rivers – the Father of British Archaeology

Augustus Pitt Rivers – the Father of British Archaeology

On April 14, 1832, English army officer, ethnologist, and archaeologist Augustus Henry Lane-Fox Pitt Rivers was born. He is often called the “father of British archaeology”, who stressed the need for total excavation of sites, through stratigraphic observation and recording, and prompt and complete publication. Like Sir Flinders Petrie, Pitt-Rivers adopted a sociological approach to the study of excavated objects and emphasized the instructional value of common artifacts.[4] Pitt Rivers entered the…
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William Budd and the Infectious Diseases

William Budd and the Infectious Diseases

William Budd(1811 –  1880) On September 14, 1811, English physician and epidemiologist William Budd was born. He is best known known for his discovery that infectious diseases were contagious. Budd was born in North Tawton, Devon. Already his father was a surgeon and also six of the ten children in the family became doctors. Three graduated in Edinburgh and three in Cambridge. William Budd attended the École de Médecine in Paris and…
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Joseph Merrick – The Story of the Elefant Man

Joseph Merrick – The Story of the Elefant Man

On August 5, 1865, Joseph Carey Merrick was born. Sometimes incorrectly referred to as John Merrick, Joseph Carey Merrick was an English man with severe deformities who was exhibited as a human curiosity named the Elephant Man. He became well known in London society after he went to live at the London Hospital. You might have heard of Merrick from David Lynch’s popular film ‘The Elefant Man‘, released in 1980 starring Anthony Hopkins. Frightened by…
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John Tyndall and the Physics of Air

John Tyndall and the Physics of Air

John Tyndall (1820–1893) caricatured as a preacher in the magazine Vanity Fair, 1872 On August 2, 1820, British physicist John Tyndall was born. His initial scientific fame arose in the 1850s from his study of diamagnetism. Later he made discoveries in the realms of infrared radiation and the physical properties of air. As the most prominent example, he was able to demonstrate why the sky is blue. John Tyndall was born in Leighlinbridge,…
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William Makepeace Thackeray’s deft Skewering of Human Foibles

William Makepeace Thackeray’s deft Skewering of Human Foibles

William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863) On July 18, 1811, English novelist William Makepeace Thackeray was born. He was famous for his satirical works, particularly Vanity Fair, a panoramic portrait of English society. During the Victorian era, Thackeray was ranked second only to Charles Dickens, but he is now much less read and is known almost exclusively for Vanity Fair, which has become a standard fixture in university courses and has been repeatedly adapted for movies…
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Between Realism and Romanticism – Thomas Hardy

Between Realism and Romanticism – Thomas Hardy

On June 2, 1840, English novelist and poet Thomas Hardy was born. A Victorian realist in the tradition of George Eliot, he was influenced both in his novels and in his poetry by Romanticism, especially William Wordsworth. Charles Dickens was his other source of influence, and like Dickens he was highly critical of much in Victorian society. “To find beauty in ugliness is the province of the poet.” — Thomas Hardy, Statement (5 August 1888) Thomas…
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