This volume contains 266 letters covering a period of twenty-two months, when Tyndall was in his midthirties and had been employed by the Royal Institution as professor of natural philosophysince September 1853. Many of the letters printed here concern the lectures he delivered at the RI and other institutions and his attempt to establish his reputation as a researcher. Although he published in several other areas—including the cleavage of rocks, colorblindness, and glaciers—the main focus of his research was the newly discovered and problematic phenomenon of diamagnetism. Tyndall reported his experimental results and theoretical views on this subject in several lectures and papers that greatly enhanced his scientific standing, which was further extended by his contact with other scientists, not only in London but across the British Isles and in France and Germany. By the end of this period, Tyndall was a man of science with a European reputation that was recognized in November 1856 when the Royal Society elected him a member of its Council.
William Brock is Professor Emeritus of the History of Science and former Director of the Victorian Studies Centre at the University of Leicester. He is a past president of the British Society for the History of Science, and past chairman of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry. His research has focused on nineteenth-century science and his publications include studies of the history of chemistry, the development of scientific periodicals, and biographies of Justus von Liebig and Sir William Crookes.
Geoffrey Cantor is professor emeritus of the history of science at the University of Leeds and senior honorary research associate at University College, London. He is past president of the British Society for the History of Science. His research has focused on nineteenth-century British science and his publications include studies of Michael Faraday, the Great Exhibition of 1851, and the interrelations of science and religion.