The Man Who Knew Too Much
Robert Hooke was one of the most inventive, versatile and prolific scientists of the late 17th Century, but for 300 years his reputation has been overshadowed by those of his two great contemporaries, his friend Sir Christopher Wren and his rival Sir Isaac Newton. If he is remembered today, it is as the author of a law of elasticity or as amisanthrope who accused Newton of stealing his ideas on gravity.
This book, the first life of Hooke for nearly fifty years, rescues its subject from centuries of obscurity and misjudgement. It shows us Hooke the prolific inventor, the mechanic, the astronomer, the anatomist, the pioneer of geology, meteorology and microscopy, the precursor of Lavoisier and Darwin. It also gives us Hooke the architect of Bedlam and the Monument, the supervisor of London's rebuilding after the Great Fire, the watchmaker, the consumer of prodigious quantities of medicines and purgatives, the candid diarist, the lover, the hoarder of money and secrets, the coffee house conversationalist. This is an absorbing study of a fascinating and unduly forgotten man.