In addition to the general topical interest indicated in the title, I am also curious about British mathematics of the period viewed through the lens of competition with the rest of Europe (and perhaps even the rest of the world). For example, I have often heard it argued (informally) that the whole Newton-Leibniz-calculus kerfuffle can only be properly viewed in terms of a more general conflict between British and European mathematicians and scientists in that time period. Are there any books which address the existence and historical importance of such a conflict?


2 Answers 2


The books on history of mathematics are not normally divided by national boundaries. I do not know of any book addressing specially the history of British mathematics, or German mathematics, or French mathematics. (Exception is Russian mathematics:-) Mathematics is not really divided on national lines, this is an international enterprise, at least in Europe, at least since 18th century. So 19 and 20 century European mathematics is a single thing, with no national divisions. Mathematical journals, from the very beginning were international, and published papers from all countries.

A good book on 19 century mathematics is Klein, History of mathematics in 19th century (there is an English translation). It addresses German, British, French and Italian mathematics, and of course Norwegian too.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the info — I'd upvote if I were able. More on topic: Just because mathematics was (and still is) an "international enterprise" doesn't means that nationality doesn't enter into the discussion. For example, I've heard that from at least 1700 to 1720 the British were refusing to use Leibniz's notation and the rest of Europe was refusing to use Newton's. I was wondering if there were any sources that talked about the existence (or non-existence) of some sort of broader conflict behind this. $\endgroup$
    – A. Howells
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 0:54
  • $\begingroup$ In any case, a good general History of mathematics book will cover all European countries, and I do not recall a good book specially about mathematics in England. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 2:42
  • $\begingroup$ @A. Howels: So do I. This was the transitional period. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 2:47
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    $\begingroup$ @A. Howells. Yes, there was a broader conflict: the ugly discussion about priority in which Newton and Leibniz unfortunately participated. About this period the best sources are Newton and Leibniz biographies, for example, Never at rest by Westfall. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 2:50
  • $\begingroup$ The split which resulted from this discussion was very harmful for British mathematics. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 2:51

Here are two references, from a broader perspective:

  • "Mathematical Visions: The Pursuit of Geometry in Victorian England" by Richards.

  • "Mathematics in Victorian Britain", ed. by Raymond Flood, Adrian Rice, Robin Wilson.


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