Professor Robert Iliffe

Newton: A Very Short Introduction (OUP March 2007)

Newton: a very short introduction

Newton's reputation was the subject of intense debate long before his death in 1727. While alive, numerous opponents sought to topple his theories, and his views on religion were considered by many to be unorthodox. For the vast majority of scholars, however, his groundbreaking approach to science overrode all else.

This book makes use of previously unpublished private writings and manuscript sources to present a concise exploration of the internal springs of Newton's complex character. Robert Iliffe describes Newton's studies in fields ranging from alchemy, physics, and mathematics, as well as his controversial religious beliefs, and concludes with a consideration of the legacy left after his demise. Newton will gratify readers who are interested in the real history behind one of the world's most legendary scientists.

My research interests lie within the following headings:

  • environmental history
  • history of religion
  • History of science
  • Isaac Newton
  • material culture and science
  • relations between science and religion
  • Priest of Nature: The Religious Worlds of Isaac Newton

  • Galvanic Humans

  • Servant of two masters? Fatio de Duillier, Isaac Newton and Christiaan Huygens

  • Hartlib's World

  • The Newton Project. [Dataset]

  • Newton: A Very Short Introduction

  • Digitizing Isaac: The Newton Project and an Electronic Edition of Newton's Papers

  • Prosecuting Athanasius: Protestant Forensics and the Mirrors of Persecution

  • More

Current DPhil Students

  • Timothy Miller
  • Cornelis Schilt
  • Sotirios Triantafyllos
  • Zhaoyuan Wan
  • Audrey Borowski 

I would be willing to hear from potential DPhil students in any areas of my research interests (see under Research)

I currently teach:


  • Methods and Themes in the History of Science and Technology
  • Malthus, Darwin and Society, 1790-1950
  • The Scientific Revolution, 1540-1740

Chemistry Undergraduate Supplementary Subject:

  • History and Philosophy of Science

Radio 4’s Making History episode on Stukeley and Stonehenge - 20 June 2017

Tom Holland is joined by Rob Iliffe, Professor of the History of Science at the University of Oxford and Dr David Haycock the author of ‘William Stukeley: Science, Religion, and Archaeology in Eighteenth-century England.

In our Time - 18 Feb 2016
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the life and work of Robert Hooke (1635-1703)

List of site pages