Skip to content
Open global navigation

Cambridge University Press

AcademicLocation selectorSearch toggleMain navigation toggle

Your Cart


You have 0 items in your cart.

Register Sign in Wishlist

The Poetry of Victorian Scientists
Style, Science and Nonsense

$104.99 (C)

Part of Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture

  • Date Published: March 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107023376

$104.99 (C)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Paperback, eBook

Looking for an examination copy?

If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • A surprising number of Victorian scientists wrote poetry. Many came to science as children through such games as the spinning-top, soap-bubbles and mathematical puzzles, and this playfulness carried through to both their professional work and writing of lyrical and satirical verse. This is the first study of an oddly neglected body of work that offers a unique record of the nature and cultures of Victorian science. Such figures as the physicist James Clerk Maxwell toy with ideas of nonsense, as through their poetry they strive to delineate the boundaries of the new professional science and discover the nature of scientific creativity. Also considering Edward Lear, Daniel Brown finds the Victorian renaissances in research science and nonsense literature to be curiously interrelated. Whereas science and literature studies have mostly focused upon canonical literary figures, this original and important book conversely explores the uses literature was put to by eminent Victorian scientists.

    • The first full-length study of poetry by Victorian scientists
    • Explores the sources and nature of creativity common to scientific discovery and artistic innovation in the works of some of the greatest modern scientists
    • An important advance in the field of science and literature studies
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    "Brown's scholarship is intense and impressive."
    Review 19

    "… provides fresh perspectives on, and a thorough engagement with, the wider scientific and literary culture of the era … it is likely to become a standard point of departure for those studying the poetry of that most remarkable and multifaceted of Victorian natural philosophers, James Clerk Maxwell."
    London Mathematical Society Newsletter

    "… does for verse what Beer's Darwin Plots (1983) did for the novel, and reveals, often compellingly, how poetry and poetics were crucial components of the working practices and intellectual activities of many of the most influential men of science in the second half of the nineteenth century … a stimulating and fascinating book."
    Gowan Dawson, Journal of Victorian Culture

    "Daniel Brown's highly original and stimulating new book shows us that poetry mattered to Victorian scientists … Brown's scholarship is intense and impressive."
    John Holmes, University of Reading

    "The book argues persuasively for the importance of poetry to a number of Victorian scientific figures … The Poetry of Victorian Scientists does valuable work in mapping and contextualizing the various poetic writings of these figures, and it represents a major contribution to scholarship on poetry by 19th-century scientists."
    Gregory Tate, The Review of English Studies

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2013
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107023376
    • length: 330 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.61kg
    • contains: 6 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Professionals and amateurs, work and play: William Rowan Hamilton, Edward Lear and James Clerk Maxwell
    2. Edinburgh natural philosophy and Cambridge mathematics
    3. Knowing more than you think: James Clerk Maxwell on puns, analogies and dreams
    4. Red Lions: Edward Forbes and James Clerk Maxwell
    5. Popular science lectures: 'A Tyndallic Ode'
    6. John Tyndall and 'The Scientific Use of the Imagination'
    7. 'Molecular Evolution': Maxwell, Tyndall and Lucretius
    8. James Joseph Sylvester: the romance of space
    9. James Joseph Sylvester: the calculus of forms
    10. Science on Parnassus

  • Author

    Daniel Brown, University of Southampton
    Daniel Brown is Professor of English at the University of Southampton.

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Back to top

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.

Cancel Delete

Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.