Dr Benjamin Wardhaugh
My research and publications centre on the history of numeracy and mathematics, and the ways mathematics influences and is a part of cultures. I have worked mainly on topics in early modern Britain, including mathematical music theory in that period and a biographical study of the mathematician, natural philosopher and educator Charles Hutton (1737–1823). My current research project looks at the reception of the Euclidean Elements of Geometry in sixteenth and seventeenth–century Britain. I also have a special interest in practices of mathematical reading and the evidence for them including annotations and marginalia.
I have published a number of more wideranging books, including a textbook for students interested in reading historical mathematics and an anthology of five centuries of popular mathematical writing; I am one of the two general editors of the forthcoming Bloomsbury Cultural History of Mathematics.
I have taught in both the Mathematical Institute and the History Faculty, and am always happy to hear from graduate students hoping to work in my areas of interest.
 History of mathematics
 Early modern British history
 History of education
I have wideranging interests in the history of mathematics and its applications, the history of mathematics education, and the history of numeracy and the mathematics of everyday life. With an intellectual background in mathematics (BA, Cambridge, 2000) and music (MMus, GSMD, 2002) I have always been keen to develop ideas and research projects that cross disciplinary boundaries and to begin and sustain conversations between scholars from different fields.
For my doctoral project (Oxford, 2006) I looked at mathematical theories of music in early modern Britain: theories of pitch and tuning and their relationship to natural philosophical ideas about sound and hearing in the same period. Since completing that project I have published several critical editions of sources in the same field, including writings by René Descartes and Isaac Newton that bear on the nature of sound and its mathematical description. I maintain an interest in this area, and have participated in research projects and given papers on various topics in the early modern study of sound and music.
My postdoctoral work, done at All Souls College, Oxford, focussed on popular and everyday mathematics in Georgian Britain. I explored sources including almanacs, textbooks, school curricula and newsprint for evidence of how mathematical skills were acquired and disseminated, and how mathematics was used and viewed by people whose main fields of interest and expertise lay elsewhere. This research led to a number of publications including my book Poor Robin’s Prophecies (OUP, 2012). The longterm processes of change in this area – how populations acquire or lose numerate skills – remains one of my main interests, and has motivated my subsequent work. Smaller ‘spinoff’ projects have included a study of the mathematics of the natural historian and ‘virtuoso’ Francis Willoughby and an ongoing investigation of marginalia and annotations in early modern mathematical books. The latter has produced two papers on the consumption of mathematical books and the nature(s) of mathematical reading in the period.
More recently I have received AHRC funding for two separate projects. First, a biographical study of the mathematician and educator Charles Hutton (1737–1823). A celebrity in his day, Hutton is now mainly remembered as the enemy of Sir Joseph Banks, whose dismissal from a secretarial role at the Royal Society provoked a row that nearly unseated Banks as President of the Society. But he was also a mathematical editor, compiler, author and patron of exceptional range, as well as a talented experimental natural philosopher and – for perhaps thirty years – the leading voice speaking for mathematics in English. My biography of Hutton will be published in 2017.
Finally and currently, I am the Principal Investigator on the AHRCfunded project ‘Reading Euclid in Early Modern Britain’. Together with Philip Beeley and Yelda Nasifoglu I am investigating the dissemination of the Euclidean Elements of geometry in Britain from the early sixteenth to the late seventeenth century. The Elements was a culturally pervasive text, studied at grammar schools and universities, drawn on by practical manuals and alluded to by literary authors. Ours will be the first study to consider in detail the history of its early modern publication, dissemination and use, using both printed and manuscript evidence from around Britain.
Poor Robin’s Prophecies: A curious almanac, and the everyday mathematics of Georgian Britain (OUP, 2012)
Author, astrologer, journalist, satirist, and ‘wellwiller to the mathematics’, Poor Robin of Saffron Walden was a fantastic, yet invented, figure of British popular culture from the Restoration to the end of the Georgian period. Poor Robin's Almanac first appeared in 1662, developing an enthusiastic following and long outliving its original creator to last until 1828.
Benjamin Wardhaugh tells the great story of Georgian popular mathematics – through Poor Robin’s remarkable life, from his humble beginnings as an almanacwriter through to bestselling stardom, controversy, and decline. Using the character, wit, and columns of Poor Robin, Wardhaugh explores the mathematics of ordinary people, from learning sums to using mathematics in weighing and measuring, in business, agriculture, mapmaking, and navigation.
This is a history of mathematics that is rarely thought about – creative, popular, and led by practical and social needs. It is centred on the ordinary people that used it. Their names remain littleknown; their solutions have vanished along with the situations that required them; but their energy and ideas – as captured by Poor Robin – create a wonderfully rich picture of what mathematics can be, and has been.
Endorsement
‘Bring back the almanac! 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
Reviews
‘an inspired thesis …. While the likes of Poor Robin and his pamphlets may have disappeared long ago, mathematics remains a bedrock of our society. This wonderful book goes a long way in highlighting why.’ Jamie Condliffe, NewScientist
‘delightfully chatty and informative … [an] excellent, lively study.’ Patricia Fara, Literary Review
‘Excellent …. A book on the history of mathematics could have ended up dry and exclusive, yet Wardhaugh has written an engaging and entertaining book that never loses its audience.’ Steve Toase, Fortean Times

Sound Knowledge: Music and Science in London, 17891851
2018 Other 
The Correspondence of Charles Hutton
2018 Scholarly editionThis book contains all the letters that are known to survive from the correspondence of Charles Hutton (17371823).Mathematics 
Editorial
2018 Journal article 
The harmony of the spheres in English musical mathematics, 16501750
2017 Chapter 
John Birchensha: Writings on Music
2017 Scholarly edition94 His diagrams show that Birchensha is confused here. Arithmetic division should result in a set of notes for which the differences between pairs of string lengths are constant; Birchensha's second and third examples, however, show notes whose string length ratios are constant. the first example shows a set of notes whose string lengths obey no consistent rule. 95 this paragraph is probably intended as a gesture towards the fact that every note (of the diatonic genus) in Birchensha's ...Music 
Charles Hutton: ‘One of the greatest mathematicians in Europe’?
2017 Journal article© 2016 British Society for the History of Mathematics. Charles Hutton, 1737–1823. If you are interested in eighteenth or nineteenthcentury British mathematics, you've heard of him; you've quite probably used his 1795 Dictionary as a historical source. You quite possibly don't know much else. I'm at present working on an AHRCfunded biography of Charles Hutton, together with an edition of his hundredodd surviving letters. This article reflects on the nature and significance of Hutton's achievements, and what his example tells us about mathematical biography more generally. 
Charles Hutton & the 'Dissensions' of 178384: Scientific networking & its failures
2017 Journal article©2016 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. This paper proposes a fresh look at the 'Dissensions' that held up scientific business at the Royal Society during the spring of 1784. It focuses attention on the career and personal networks of Charles Hutton, whose dismissal from the role of Foreign Secretary ignited the row. It shows that the incident had no single cause but was the outcome of several factors that made Hutton intolerable to Joseph Banks, President of the Society, and of several factors that made Banks unpopular as President among a group of about 40 otherwise rather disparate Fellows. 
Willughby's mathematics
2016 Chapter 
Filling a Gap in the History of : An Exciting Discovery
2016 Journal article 
Greek Mathematics in English: The Work of Sir Thomas L. Heath (18611940)
2016 ChapterGreek mathematics, Translation, Euclid, Archimedes
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Current DPhil Students
 Kevin Baker
I would like to hear from potential DPhil students regarding any area in the history of mathematics or early modern history of science.