Mr Hopkins' Men

Cambridge Reform and British Mathematics in the 19th Century

Authors: Craik, A.D.D.

  • Hopkins’ own collection of portraits of his top students, attributed to the artist T.C. Wageman, is published here - in full colour - for the first time
  • Charts the evolution of teaching and research at Cambridge University during a key period in the development of the mathematical sciences in Britain
  • Surveys the careers and achievements of the top Wranglers of the period 1829-60 including G. Green, G.G. Stokes, J.C. Adams, W. Thomson (Lord Kelvin), A. Cayley and J.C. Maxwell
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eBook $54.99
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  • ISBN 978-1-84628-791-6
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Hardcover $129.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-84628-790-9
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $69.95
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  • ISBN 978-1-84800-132-9
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
About this book

The 19th century was a key period in the development of the mathematical sciences in Britain. Subjects such as rigid-body dynamics, hydrodynamics, elasticity, optics, heat, electricity and magnetism were extended and given firmer foundations; new areas of pure mathematics were explored; and major advances took place in statistics, astronomy, geology and glaciology.

The mid-19th century also brought dramatic changes to Cambridge University. Before 1850, the only pathway to an honours degree was the Mathematical Tripos - taken by all aspiring students whatever their destined careers - and the best teaching was provided by private tutors, the most renowned being the remarkable William Hopkins.

This wide-ranging book tells the story of Hopkins and the education and subsequent careers of his top "wranglers", many of whom went on to have illustrious careers as bishops, judges, politicians, scientists or educators. It draws on first-hand accounts of life at Cambridge to give the reader a glimpse inside its colleges, and it charts the evolution of the curriculum and the slow, often reluctant, reforms that led to Cambridge’s dominance of British higher education. It surveys the scientific achievements of the time and considers the disproportionate contributions made by Scottish and Irish alumni in establishing a research community. Gradually, Cambridge was transformed from a near-moribund institution into a world-renowned centre for the mathematical and physical sciences.

Many famous scientists and mathematicians are profiled, among them G. Green, G.G. Stokes, J.C. Adams, W. Thomson (Lord Kelvin), A. Cayley and J.C. Maxwell, and many lesser-known figures too, including the first professors in Australia and the tutor to an Indian maharajah. In addition, and as a special highlight, Hopkins’ own collection of portraits of his top students, attributed to the artist T.C. Wageman, are published here – in colour – for the first time.

Scholarly yet non-technical, this is a fascinating look at Cambridge during the Victorian era that is accessible to anyone with an interest in the history of science and mathematics; the history of education; the interaction of science and religious belief; the history of Cambridge University; and Victorian Britain generally.

Alex D.D. Craik is a graduate of St Andrews and Cambridge. For many years, he taught applied mathematics at St Andrews University, where he is presently an emeritus professor.

About the authors

ADD Craik is a well-respected mathematician and an authority on 19th century mathematics. He has contributed a number of well-regarded articles to journals such as "Historia Mathematica” and "Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London”.

Reviews

From the reviews:

"Mr Hopkins’ Men is a book which takes the reader on a hike across nineteenth century mathematics in the British Isles. It takes in university reform, the lives of great mathematicians and the cultural influences and religious controversies in Victorian Britain. The author provides an engaging combination of historical colour, breadth of scope and fascinating detail in his narrative. It was a joy to read [Mark McCartney, University of Ulster: BSHM Bulletin]"

"Groomed for Success"

A few years ago, Alex Craik, a mathematician from the university of St. Andrews, found an obscure collection of portraits in the Wren Library of Trinity College at Cambridge University. The people depicted all had one thing in common: they had been pupils of the famous 19th-century Cambridge private mathematics tutor William Hopkins. He had taught a group that included George Stokes, William Thomson and James Clerk Maxwell, as well as other less famous but still highly successful scientists. Inspired by this finding, Craik has written Mr Hopkins' Men, which tells the story of Hopkins and his top students. The book provides a fascinating insight into 19th-century Cambridge college life, and charts how the university evolved from an outdated and stagnating institution into the world-renowned centre for mathematical and scientific research it is today. Many of these reforms were, in fact, down to Hopkins and the men he tutored." -Physics World, June 2008

"This book gives a fascinating view of Cambridge University during the Victorian era. … The book can be recommended to people who are interested in the history of Victorian Britain in general and in the history of Cambridge University, mathematical education, mathematics, and scientific life and work, as well as the connections of science and religious belief, politics, etc." (EMS Newsletter, June, 2008)

“The nineteenth century has often been styled the age of reform in Britain and neither higher education nor mathematical curricula were immune to the reforming impulses that have come to characterize the era. … book that will serve as a resource for those interested both in the role of mathematics in nineteenth century Cambridge and in the lives of many of those who so successfully gamed the Cambridge system.” (Karen Hunger Parshall, ISIS, Vol. 100 (3), 2009)

"The author has researched very well, not only in the published primary and secondary literature but also in various archives. His long bibliography is followed by excellent indices; nearly 50 pages of end matter. He has produced an impressive and attractive book – and his publisher has matched him in the quality of the reproductions and indeed in the book as a whole, which even carries a ribbon bookmark. Overall this book and Warwick’s shed much light on the Tripos, its context and consequences." (The Mathematical Gazette, July 2010)


Table of contents (13 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook $54.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-1-84628-791-6
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $129.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-84628-790-9
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $69.95
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-84800-132-9
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Mr Hopkins' Men
Book Subtitle
Cambridge Reform and British Mathematics in the 19th Century
Authors
Copyright
2007
Publisher
Springer-Verlag London
Copyright Holder
Springer-Verlag London
eBook ISBN
978-1-84628-791-6
DOI
10.1007/978-1-84628-791-6
Hardcover ISBN
978-1-84628-790-9
Softcover ISBN
978-1-84800-132-9
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XIV, 410
Number of Illustrations and Tables
30 b/w illustrations, 48 illustrations in colour
Topics