Babbage / Brougham Letters

Scope and Content

Photographs of letters to Charles Babbage from William, 2nd Baron Brougham, and Dionysius Lardner.

Administrative / Biographical History

Charles Babbage was born in London and educated at Trinity College and Peterhouse, Cambridge. From 1815 onwards, he was a participant in the burgeoning London scientific scene. He became a fellow of the Royal Society in 1816 and was active in the Astronomical Society from its foundation in 1820. Babbage published several papers and books on topics in mathematics and the philosophy of science, but is best known today for his invention of a kind of a 'difference engine' (an automated calculating machine forming a mechanical precursor to the modern computer); the machine was never built during his lifetime but staff at the Science Museum in London have since successfully constructed a working model.

Access Information


The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking.

Acquisition Information

Originals in the collection of Mrs Jean Babbage. Photographs printed from negatives supplied in 1982 by G T Tel, Department of Civil and Municipal Engineering, University College London.

Other Finding Aids

Collection level description

Related Material

University College London, Special Collections also holds the correspondence and papers of William Brougham, 2nd Baron Brougham and Vaux, dating from the 1810s to the 1880s. A large series of c10,000 letters to William Brougham from c1,500 organisations and individuals outside the Brougham family, among them aristocrats, including members of the Edwardes family, Barons Kensington, and of the Lowther family, Earls of Lonsdale; churchmen; and some political figures.