Newton revisited

September 1, 2000

On reading that Cambridge University is launching an appeal for the purchase of the Macclesfield Newton Collection (Back page, THES, August 25), I was reminded of last year's sad revelation that Keele University had sold an original copy of Sir Isaac Newton's prime work, Principia Mathematica, to an American buyer.

The book had been part of the Turner collection bequeathed to the university library in 1968. In its wisdom, did Keele assume that locals were not interested in the collection? Keele admitted to the error of not consulting the British Library. After the dust settled, it emerged that Cambridge would have given about a million for it. After this latest appeal for Newton's works, why is there no call for the return of the missing jewel in the crown - the Principia original?

I had hoped there would be a campaign for the return of the book. Perhaps the Newton society of Woolsthorpe in Lincolnshire might respond. After all, hundreds turned up at his birthplace from all over the world in October 1999. I live in hope.

Philip Meads Newton


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