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The Royal Society Reviews

The Royal Society by Adrian Tinniswood

The Royal Society

And the Invention of Modern Science

Adrian Tinniswood

Score pending

1 review

Category: Non-fiction, History
Imprint: Head of Zeus
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publication date: 10 Jan 2019
ISBN: 9781786691897

The story of a British institution whose fellows, including Newton, Darwin and Hawking, have changed the way we look at the world.

3 stars out of 5
John Carey
6 Jan 2019

"(a) compact, informative book"

In the event, as Adrian Tinniswood’s compact, informative book shows, the Fellows’ ambition to recruit the rich and powerful was almost the society’s undoing. They rigged the rules to allow aristocrats to become Fellows of the Royal Society whether scientifically qualified or not. Their draft constitution stated that no applicants for a fellowship would be admitted “without scrutiny”, except “such as were of, or above, the degree of baron”. When it came to selecting the society’s first president the obvious choice was John Wilkins, a tireless theoriser who had been a driving force behind the society’s formation. However, an obscure viscount was chosen instead, solely because of his rank. At society meetings Fellows were obliged to take their hats off before addressing him.