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date: 09 December 2019

Herschel, Sir John (Frederick William )locked

(b Slough, March 7, 1792; d Collingwood, Kent, May 11, 1871).
  • L. J. Schaaf

Extract

(Frederick William )

(b Slough, March 7, 1792; d Collingwood, Kent, May 11, 1871).

English artist, photographer, scientist, and writer. The only son of the astronomer Sir William Herschel (1738–1822), John Herschel emerged as a commanding figure in 19th-century British science, making significant contributions to mathematics while still at school. Herschel’s scientific viewpoint came from the 18th-century ‘natural philosopher’s’ desire to pursue an eclectic exploration of the physical world. At the same time he was equally conversant with the implications of the explosive technological growth and change of the 19th century, when the term ‘natural philosopher’ gave way to ‘scientist’.

Within a week of learning of the public announcement of the concept of photography early in 1839, Herschel had independently perfected his own working process. Much of his previous research in light, optics, and chemistry was immediately applicable to the new invention, and the involvement of a scientist of Herschel’s stature did much to lend credence to early British efforts. His friendship and working alliance with ...

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