Hutton’s Books

IntroductionSourcesPoliciesThe catalogueAcknowledgements



The book collection of Charles Hutton (1737–1823) was described by more than one of his contemporaries as the best mathematical library in Great Britain. It had been assembled over a period of around fifty years, from probably the early 1750s until about 1815. It was dispersed by sale in 1816, but fortunately there survive two manuscript catalogues and the printed sale catalogue, allowing its contents to be reconstructed, admittedly with only partial confidence.

The main content of this site thus comprises a catalogue of Charles Hutton’s library. It provides an unusually full record of what was important or thought to be important among the mathematical publications of eighteenth-century Britain as well as what was obtained from the mathematical and scientific publications of the European continent by an interested and energetic collector.

This catalogue is one of the outcomes of an AHRC-funded project on the life of Charles Hutton (1737–1823) which took place during 2014–16 with Benjamin Wardhaugh as principal investigator. A full account of Hutton’s life and work arising from that project appears in Gunpowder and Geometry: The remarkable life of Charles Hutton (William Collins, 2019); summaries are in ‘Charles Hutton: One of the greatest mathematicians in Europe”?’, Bulletin of the British Society for the History of Mathematics (2017) and ‘Who was Charles Hutton?’, History Today (2019). His surviving correspondence is collected in The Correspondence of Charles Hutton (1737–1823): Mathematical networks in Georgian Britain (OUP, 2017). Finally his library is described in more detail in ‘Collection, use and dispersal: the library of Charles Hutton and the fate of Georgian mathematics’, in Beeley and Hollings, Beyond the Academy: The Practice of Mathematics, 1600–1850 (forthcoming).