Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859)

I was listening this morning to Today on Radio 4 and heard Andrea Wulf describing how little known Alexander von Humboldt is to the English-speaking world today - at least, before the publication of her prize-winning biography The Invention of Nature.

So it's nice to remember that the Revd Robert Barlow of Hutton Rudby was a reader, boasting in Chapter 1 of his fictionalised semi-autobiography Remarkable but Still True:
... I myself am a great reader of all sorts of books, from Baron Humboldt's 'Cosmos,' down to the veriest romance, at times, to relax the tension upon the mind and memory necessary for the profitable perusal of scientific reasoning.
This was no idle boast - he had indeed left notes from his reading of Cosmos in one of his notebooks.

We can all expect to hear more of von Humboldt now that Wulf's biography has been awarded the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize 2016.