Anne DeWitt is a clinical associate professor at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, New York University.
The twelfth volume of The Correspondence of John Tyndall contains 326 letters and covers the fifteen months of Tyndall’s life from March 1871 through May 1872, a time when he was a central figure in the field and had a substantial reputation in both the UK and the United States. It begins just before the publication of Fragments of Science in April and Hours of Exercise in May. It includes a number of small but public disputes about science, most notably the start of a controversy about Kew Gardens involving botanist Joseph Hooker. Tyndall was visited by friends and dignitaries; he traveled to Switzerland, Ireland, and the countryside for scrambles; and he began planning a trip to the United States. He dealt with issues concerning his family in Ireland, which were troublesome for him. He was busy administering the Royal Institution and the Royal Society; he was also working as the scientific consultant to Trinity House, which was involved in overseeing lighthouses in the United Kingdom, of which Ireland was a part at this time. Unlike other volumes, this one is not defined as much by one or two major endeavors or events for Tyndall, but instead includes a number of smaller projects as well as personal and professional issues.