Rupert Hall: Pioneering historian of science and editor of Isaac Newton's letters (Obit)





Next year the Royal Society will be celebrating its 350th anniversary. We owe much of our understanding of this body and its working to the historian Rupert Hall, who has died aged 88, and his wife Marie Boas Hall.

In 1949, Herbert Butterfield, in The Origins of Modern Science, 1300-1800, summoned historians to take seriously a development he considered at least as important as the Renaissance and Reformation. Hall took up the challenge in his book The Scientific Revolution, 1500-1800 (1954). The title provided a useful label for the changes in approach to the natural world, the new institutions, and the power that new knowledge brought, that distinguish the science and technology of the modern world. The book's range and its accessibility made it a landmark, opening up the history of science for a new generation.

Alfred Rupert Hall (he never used his first name) was born near Stoke-on-Trent and educated at Alderman Newton school, Leicester. He went to Christ's College, Cambridge, in 1938 to read history, but his studies there were interrupted by war service as an officer in the Royal Corps of Signals with the Eighth Army in North Africa and Italy.



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