Papers of Isaac Todhunter

Scope and Content

Notebooks containing mathematical notes, problems and solutions, a catalogue of Todhunter's library, letters to John Sephton.

Administrative / Biographical History

Mathematician. Isaac Todhunter was born in Rye in 1820. His father, a Congregationalist minister, died in 1825 and his mother supported the family by opening a school for girls in Hastings. Todhunter was not noted as a scholar until he went to Peckham School as assistant master. Whilst there he attended evening classes at University College London, where he was taught by James Joseph Sylvester and Augustus DeMorgan. Todhunter always felt indebted to his tutors who so influenced his future career. He gained his BA in 1842, won a scholarship, and was made MA in 1844. During this time he served as mathematics master at a school in Wimbledon. In 1844, following advice from DeMorgan, Todhunter entered St John's College. He graduated senior wrangler in 1848 and won the first Smith's Prize. The following year he was made a Fellow of the College, and he soon progressed to the post of principal mathematical lecturer at St John's. During this time he wrote mathematical treatises on algebra, trigonometry, and mechanics, many of which remained in use until the turn of the century. Todhunter was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1862, and was a founding member of the London Mathematical Society in 1865. In 1871 he won the Adams Prize and was elected to the council of the Royal Society. Todhunter was a notable linguist, and became an expert both on the history of philosophy and of mathematics. He died in 1884.

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Note

Mathematician. Isaac Todhunter was born in Rye in 1820. His father, a Congregationalist minister, died in 1825 and his mother supported the family by opening a school for girls in Hastings. Todhunter was not noted as a scholar until he went to Peckham School as assistant master. Whilst there he attended evening classes at University College London, where he was taught by James Joseph Sylvester and Augustus DeMorgan. Todhunter always felt indebted to his tutors who so influenced his future career. He gained his BA in 1842, won a scholarship, and was made MA in 1844. During this time he served as mathematics master at a school in Wimbledon. In 1844, following advice from DeMorgan, Todhunter entered St John's College. He graduated senior wrangler in 1848 and won the first Smith's Prize. The following year he was made a Fellow of the College, and he soon progressed to the post of principal mathematical lecturer at St John's. During this time he wrote mathematical treatises on algebra, trigonometry, and mechanics, many of which remained in use until the turn of the century. Todhunter was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1862, and was a founding member of the London Mathematical Society in 1865. In 1871 he won the Adams Prize and was elected to the council of the Royal Society. Todhunter was a notable linguist, and became an expert both on the history of philosophy and of mathematics. He died in 1884.

Preferred citation: St John's College Library, Papers of Isaac Todhunter

Archivist's Note

10 Aug 2007

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