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Summary

August 1755. Newcastle, on the north bank of the Tyne.

In the fields, men and women are getting the harvest in. Sunlight or rain. Scudding clouds and backbreaking labour. Three hundred feet underground, young Charles Hutton is at the coalface. Cramped, dust choked, wielding a five-pound pick by candlelight. Eighteen years old, he’s been down the pits on and off for more than a decade, and now it looks like a life sentence. No unusual story, although Charles is a clever lad - gifted at maths and languages - and for a time he hoped for a different life. Many hoped.

Charles Hutton, astonishingly, would actually live the life he dreamed of. Twenty years later you’d have found him in Slaughter’s coffeehouse in London, eating a few oysters with the President of the Royal Society.

By the time he died in 1823, he was a fellow of scientific academies in four countries while the Lord Chancellor of England counted himself fortunate to have known him. Hard work, talent and no small share of luck would take Charles Hutton out of the pit to international fame, wealth, admiration and happiness. The pi boy turned professor would become one of the most revered British scientists of his day. This book is his incredible story.

©2019 Benjamin Wardhaugh (P)2019 HarperCollins Pulishers Limited

Critic reviews

"Wardhaugh has done a brilliant job in revealing a most curious period in British life’." (Steve Craggs, Northern Echo)

 "Mathematics remains a bedrock of our society. This wonderful book goes a long way in highlighting why." (Jamie Condliffe, New Scientist)

"Wardhaugh's fascinating account of Poor Robin's Almanac persuasively reveals the power of the almanac to give mathematics a human face." (Marcus du Sautoy)

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