1st Edition

Thomas Harriot: Science and Discovery in the English Renaissance

Edited By Robert Fox Copyright 2023
    238 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This volume sheds new light on one of the most remarkable polymaths of the English Renaissance. It offers original perspectives not only on Harriot’s personal achievements in mathematics and natural philosophy but also on the wider realms of exploration, colonial ambition, and philosophical debate in which he earned the attention and respect of contemporaries in and far beyond the socially elevated circles of his two great patrons, first Walter Ralegh and then Henry Percy, the ninth Earl of Northumberland.  

    Harriot’s sixteenth-century world was one of unprecedented expansion in both scientific understanding and the discovery of new lands and peoples. The essays gathered here bring out forcefully the effect of this expanding vision, encapsulated in Harriot’s Briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia (1588), the first detailed description of America to be published in the English language. In addition to an essay by a recent biographer of Harriot, the volume contains reworked versions of seven Thomas Harriot Lectures, an annual lecture series inaugurated in 1990 in Oriel College, Oxford. It follows two earlier volumes of Harriot Lectures, also edited by Robert Fox, that appeared in 2000 and 2012.

    Introduction: Thomas Harriot. Science, Mathematics, Exploration in the English Renaissance

    Robert Fox

    1. The Certain and Full Discovery of the World. Thomas Harriot and Richard Hakluyt
    2. David Harris Sacks

    3. Thomas Harriot in the Twenty-First Century. Twenty-Five Years of the Harriot Lecture
    4. Stephen Clucas

    5. "Our Learned Countryman". Thomas Harriot and the Emergence of Mathematical Community in Seventeenth-Century England
    6. Philip Beeley

    7. Thomas Harriot. The World’s First Ethnographer?
    8. Mark Horton

    9. Harriot, Hakluyt, and the Briefe and true report…of Virginia
    10. Daniel Carey


    11. "Both to Love and Fear us". How to Found an Empire in Harriot’s Day
    12. Felipe Fernández-Armesto

    13. Thomas Harriot’s Magnificent Book. Creating Europe’s First Illustrated Exploration Narrative
    14. Larry Tise

    15. Writing about Thomas Harriot

    Robyn Arianrhod

    A Bibliography of Secondary Sources Relating to the Life and Work of Thomas Harriot Published since 2010

    Polly Allingham


    Robert Fox is Emeritus Professor of the History of Science at the University of Oxford and an honorary fellow of Oriel College. His main research interests are in European science, technology, and medicine since the eighteenth century. His recent books include The Savant and the State. Science and Cultural Politics in Nineteenth-Century France (2012) and Science without Frontiers. Cosmopolitanism and National Interests in the World of Learning, 1870-1940 (2016).