Patricia Fara

What Tycho Brahe Saw

The Invention of Science: A New History of the Scientific Revolution

By David Wootton

Allen Lane 769pp £30 order from our bookshop

As 1665 drew to a close, many people were anxious about the following year, which would be burdened with the digits 666, the ominous Number of the Beast. Even though London was indeed devastated by the Great Fire in 1666, John Dryden chose to celebrate the year with his poem ‘Annus Mirabilis’. Thanks to God’s intervention, he wrote, the year had proved less disastrous than it might have done, especially because, in July, the English fleet won a great victory against the Dutch (the naval advantage was reversed in 1667). For scientists, 1666 is better known as the annus mirabilis of Isaac Newton, the year in which he retreated to his country cottage and (supposedly) not only discovered gravity beneath an apple tree, but also formulated calculus and proved that colours exist within sunlight. Philip Larkin identified the most wonderful year of all in his own poem carrying the title ‘Annus Mirabilis’:

Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(Which was rather late for me) –
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles’ first LP.

Donmar Warehouse


Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • To celebrate Paul Beatty winning the Booker, here's our review of The Sellout, to read for free: ,
    • Thomas Hardy's phrenologist tells him he will 'lead to no good' in a new book about his life in London ,
    • John Knox said that crowning a woman was akin to putting ‘a saddle upon the back of an unruly cow’. Tell that to Catherine de'Medici...,
    • RT : I 💕💕 the Pulpit article in September's about rereading books at different times of life.,
    • Interesting thread by Aki there on inclusivity in publishing. (Read her tweets for full thread.),
    • RT : A conference about inclusivity in publishing is a fantastic idea, but doesn't £200 seem a short-sighted undermining of, well, inclusivity?,