When Isaac Newton died in 1727 he left a rich legacy in terms of draft manuscripts, encompassing a variety of topics: natural philosophy, mathematics, alchemy, theology, and chronology, as well as papers relating to his career at the Mint. One thing that immediately strikes us is the textuality of Newton’s legacy: images are sparse. Regarding his scholarly endeavours we witness the same practice. Newton’s extensive drafts on theology and chronology do not contain a single illustration or map. Today we have all of Newton’s draft manuscripts as witnesses of his working methods, as well as access to a significant number of books from his own library. Drawing parallels between Newton’s reading practices and his natural philosophical and scholarly work, this paper seeks to understand Newton’s recondite writing and publishing politics.
See Patricia FaraNewton: The Making of Genius (London, Basingstoke and Oxford: Macmillan2002); David Boyd Hancock William Stukeley: Science Religion and Archaeology in Eighteenth-century England (Martlesham: Boydell & Brewer 2002) p. 3; Rob Iliffe “ ‘Is he like other men?’ The Meaning of the Principia and the Author as Idol” in Literature Culture and Society in the Stuart Restoration edited by Gerard Maclean (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1995) pp. 159–178.
Newton to Locke 16 September1693in H.W. Turnbull (ed.) The Correspondence of Isaac Newton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1959–1977) Vol. III p. 280. See also https://corpusnewtonicum.wordpress.com/2015/04/27/why-you-endeavoured-to-embroil-me-with-woemen/ (accessed 3 December 2015).
See Sarah DryThe Newton Papers: The Strange and True Odyssey of Isaac Newton’s Manuscripts (Oxford: Oxford University Press2014) for a full account of the history of Newton’s manuscripts.
Memoranda by David Gregory 5 6 7 May1694in Turnbull Correspondence Vol. III (cit. note 3) p. 338.
Isaac Newton“A Letter of Mr. Isaac Newton […] containing his New Theory about Light and Colors,”Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society19 February 1671/72 No. 80:3075–3087 pp. 3075–3076; Newton Project: NATP00006 (normalized accessed 1 September 2015).
Newton to Oldenburg 7 December1675in Turnbull Correspondence Vol. I (cit. note 3) pp. 362–386.
Ibid. pp. 435–436.
Ibid. p. 369.
Jed Z. Buchwald and Mordechai FeingoldNewton and the Origin of Civilization (Princeton: Princeton University Press2012) p. 195; Keynes Ms. 146 f. 15r (King’s College Library Cambridge); NCL Ms. 361.1.B4 f. 105r (New College Library Oxford) mentions 29 kings and hence was written after the death of Queen Anne in 1714.
Isaac Newton“Remarks upon the Observations Made upon a Chronological Index of Sir Isaac Newton, Translated into French by the Observator, and Publish’d at Paris,”Philosophical Transactions1724–1725 33:315–321 p. 320. See also Frank Manuel Isaac Newton: Historian (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1963) p. 17; NCL Ms. 361.3 f. 252v (New College Library Oxford).
Zachary Pearce to Dr. Hunt 10 August1754printed in Anonymous The Lives of Dr. Edward Pocock Vol. 1 (London: 1816) pp. 430–438 quotes taken from p. 431; see also Buchwald and Feingold Origin of Civilization (cit. note 41) pp. 307–308.
John HarrisonThe Library of Isaac Newton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press1978) p. 113.
Zachary Pearce to Dr. Hunt 10 August1754printed in Anonymous The Lives of Dr. Edward Pocock (cit. note 47) pp. 430–438 quotes taken from pp. 431–432; see also Buchwald and Feingold Newton and the Origin of Civilization (cit. note 41) pp. 307–308.