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Telling Lives in Science
Essays on Scientific Biography

$43.99 (C)

Michael Shortland, Richard Yeo, Thomas Söderqvist, Dorinda Outram, David Knight, Michael Hunter, Geoffrey Cantor, Martha Vicinus, Roy Porter, John Gascoigne, James Moore
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  • Date Published: October 2008
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521088909

$ 43.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • Images of scientists and ideas about science are often communicated to the public through historic biographies of eminent scientists, yet there has been little study of the development of scientific biography. Telling Lives brings together a collection of original essays by leading historians of science, several of them biographers, which explore for the first time the nature and development of scientific biography and its importance in forming our ideas about what scientists do, how science works, and why scientific biography remains popular. Theoretical and historical studies range from the seventeenth to the twentieth century, concentrating on such icons as Michael Faraday, Charles Darwin, Humphry Davy, Florence Nightingale and Sir Joseph Banks. With its broad sweep and careful, imaginative scholarship, this volume provides a timely and challenging examination of an important aspect of the culture of science that will be of special interest to historians of science, academics and students, and the general reader interested in the popularization of science.

    • First book-length study of a resurgent genre - scientific biography - and therefore very timely
    • Contributors are eminent historians, several of whom have written their own biographies of pre-eminent historical scientific figures
    • Wide-ranging, fresh and accessible set of original essays
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "A must for serious biographers and historians of science..." C.H. Smith, Choice

    "...a lively set of excursions into the burgeoning genre of scientific biography....It demonstrates brillantly how long-term, comparative analysis can explode myth after myth and mark out important new theoretical terrain." American Historical Review

    " the volume's most ambitious and coherent piece, makes a case for his existentialist understanding of biography....the collection is of interest, if more for the parts than for the whole." Historical Studies in the Physics and Biological Sciences

    "It is precisely in opposition to the spirit of disembodiment and disengagement that the new interest in scientific biography finds its appeal, and the essays drawn together here mark a significant moment in the history of this art form, constituting as they do a sustained set of reflections on the character of this species of literary endeavor." Books & Culture

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2008
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521088909
    • length: 312 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.46kg
    • contains: 3 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of contributors
    Introduction Michael Shortland and Richard Yeo
    1. Existential projects and existential choice in science: science biography as an edifying genre Thomas Söderqvist
    2. Life paths: autobiography, science and the French Revolution Dorinda Outram
    3. From science to wisdom: Humphry Davy's life David Knight
    4. Robert Boyle and the dilemma of biography in the age of the scientific revolution Michael Hunter
    5. Alphabetical lives: scientific biography in historical dictionaries and encyclopedias Richard Yeo
    6. The scientist as hero: public images of Michael Faraday Geoffrey Cantor
    7. Tactful organising and executive power: biographies of Florence Nightingale for girls Martha Vicinus
    8. Taking histories, medical lives: Thomas Beddoes and biography Roy Porter
    9. The scientist as patron and patriotic symbol: the changing reputation of Joseph Banks John Gascoigne
    10. Metabiographical reflections on Charles Darwin James Moore

  • Editors

    Michael Shortland, University of Sydney

    Richard Yeo, Griffith University, Queensland


    Michael Shortland, Richard Yeo, Thomas Söderqvist, Dorinda Outram, David Knight, Michael Hunter, Geoffrey Cantor, Martha Vicinus, Roy Porter, John Gascoigne, James Moore

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