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Who was Isaac Newton?

portrait of Isaac Newton

The Isaac Newton Institute

The Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences is an international research institute running a series of visitor programmes across the spectrum of the mathematical sciences. Established in 1992, the 350th anniversary of Newton's birth, INI has no direct historical links with Newton, but was named after him because of his great achievements in the fields of mathematics, optics, physics and astronomy. INI continues in this tradition of crossing the boundaries between scientific disciplines.

INI is often asked about Newton's life and work. The INI Library has a collection of books about Newton which are available for INI participants or the general public by arrangement. There are many excellent and informative websites about Newton's life and works to help you find out more about Sir Isaac Newton.


Newton's Birthplace and Schooling

Newton at Cambridge

  • Trinity College contains about five portraits of Newton and the famous statue by Roubiliac can be seen in the Chapel. The rooms Newton occupied when he was a Fellow can be seen externally but not entered.
  • The Wren Library at Trinity College contains the largest intact portion of Newton's library, and some correspondence and papers, which can be viewed by appointment. It also contains two busts of Newton (including one by Roubiliac), a display of Newton memorabilia (including walking sticks, watches, mathematical instruments and a lock of hair) and a stained glass window by Cipriani (1771) depicting an allegorical scene in which Newton is presented to George III. These can be seen during opening hours or by appointment.
  • Cambridge University Library holds the most complete collection of Newton's scientific papers, which are available via Cambridge Digital Library
  • The Keynes' Collection in the Modern Archive Centre at King's College contains many of Newton's non-scientific manuscripts, bequeathed to King's by JM Keynes (viewing by appointment)
  • The Whipple Museum contains a replica Newtonian reflecting telescope, and a number of portraits of Newton
  • An Isaac Newton Exhibition entitled Footprints of the Lion ran at Cambridge University Library in 2002

Newton's Works

Newton's Monument

Newton died at Kensington on 20 March 1727 and was buried in Westminster Abbey on 28 March. Newton's Monument dates from 1731. It was designed by William Kent and was executed by Michael Rysbrack.

For Children

  • BBC History - detailed biographical summary from a historical perspective
  • Science Rhymes - fun and facts packed in poems for children; features a poem about Isaac Newton and his three laws of motion by Celia Berrell
University of Cambridge Research Councils UK
    Clay Mathematics Institute London Mathematical Society NM Rothschild and Sons