Article ID: CBB864123041

A Most Gossiped About Genius: Sir William Rowan Hamilton (2018)

unapi

The Irish mathematician Sir William Rowan Hamilton (1805–65) is often portrayed as an unhappily married alcoholic. We show how this image originated in the 1840s, caused by a combination of the strict social rules of the Victorian era and the then changing drinking habits in Ireland. In the 1880s Hamilton's biographer Graves tried to restore Hamilton's reputation by blaming Lady Hamilton for her husband's habits. This unintentionally caused his biography to become the basis of Hamilton's overall negative image. We argue for a far more positive description of Hamilton's private life. Thereafter we trace the evolution of the negative image using an anecdote about Hamilton's work habits and its increasingly distorted representations.

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Authors & Contributors
Nakane, Michiyo
Fraser, Craig G.
Ehrhardt, Caroline
Galina I. Sinkevich
Sacchetti, Andrea
Verburgt, Lukas M.
Journals
British Society for the History of Mathematics Bulletin
Science in Context
Revue d'Histoire des Mathématiques
Physics in Perspective
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Historia Mathematica
Publishers
World Scientific
University of Pittsburgh Press
University College Press
Johns Hopkins University Press
Harvard University Press
Cambridge University Press
Concepts
Mathematics
Mathematicians
Science and society
Biographies
Algebra
Physics
People
Hamilton, William Rowan
Galois, Évariste
Euler, Leonhard
Boole, George
Walton, William (1784-1857)
Edgeworth, Francis Ysidro
Time Periods
19th century
20th century
20th century, early
18th century
Early modern
Places
Ireland
France
Zurich (Switzerland)
Paris (France)
Great Britain
Institutions
Cambridge University
Académie des Sciences, Paris
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