A sonnet to science

Scientists and their poetry

By Sam Illingworth

A sonnet to science


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-5226-8
  • Pages: 224
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £12.99
  • Published Date: November 2020
  • BIC Category: LITERARY CRITICISM / Poetry, BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Science & Technology, SCIENCE / Philosophy & Social Aspects, Impact Of Science & Technology On Society, Mathematics & science / History of science, Literature & literary studies / Poetry, Popular Science, Literature, Science: general issues, Literary studies: poetry & poets


A sonnet to science presents an account of six ground-breaking scientists who also wrote poetry, and the effect that this had on their lives and research. How was the universal computer inspired by Lord Byron? Why was the link between malaria and mosquitos first captured in the form of a poem? Whom did Humphry Davy consider to be an 'illiterate pirate'? Written by leading science communicator and scientific poet Dr Sam Illingworth, A sonnet to science presents an aspirational account of how these two disciplines can work together, and in so doing aims to convince both current and future generations of scientists and poets that these worlds are not mutually exclusive, but rather complementary in nature.


1 The romantic scientist: Humphry Davy (1778-1829)
2 The metaphysical poet: Ada Lovelace (1815-52)
3 The lyrical visionary: James Clerk Maxwell (1831-79)
4 The medical metrist: Ronald Ross (1857-1932)
5 The reluctant poet: Miroslav Holub (1923-98)
6 The poetic pioneer: Rebecca Elson (1960-99)


Sam Illingworth is a Senior Lecturer in Science Communication at Manchester Metropolitan University

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