Mathematical Men in Humble Life: Philomaths from north-west England as Editors of ‘Questions for Answer’ Journals

Despeaux, Sloan and Stenhouse, Brigitte (2024). Mathematical Men in Humble Life: Philomaths from north-west England as Editors of ‘Questions for Answer’ Journals. In: Beeley, Philip and Hollings, Christopher eds. Beyond the Learned Academy: The Practice of Mathematics, 1600-1850. Oxford: Oxford University Press, (In press).

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Abstract

Working-class men from the North of England began to form societies for their avocational, mathematical interests by the second decade of the eighteenth century. Latin mathematical texts were useless to these men, and while some of them benefited from English textbooks on algebra and geometry, it was mathematical journals that most helped inform and motivate these philomaths. In turn, these men contributed to the persistence and wide-ranging popularity of the ‘questions for answer’ genre in British journals for over 150 years. This chapter will focus on the north-west of England, on the areas surrounding the cities of Manchester and Liverpool. We will use three short-lived ‘questions for answer’ journals from this region as windows through which to view the factors that motivated the journals’ editors to promote networks of mathematical communication.

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