Matt Jones

The English Leonardo

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BBC Four - perhaps the best of the recent additions to the BBC TV & radio line-up - aired an interesting documentary on Robert Hooke tonight. During his lifetime (1635 - 1703), Hooke made scientific discoveries that rivaled those of his contemporary, Sir Isaac Newton. He was also an engineer and inventor so ahead of his time that he has been posthumously labeled the ‘English Leonardo’. However, despite his achievements, Hooke's name is relatively unknown; there are no paintings or drawings of him and the only reason we know anything about him is because historians have spent years piecing together his life from what little records exist. Even during his lifetime, Hooke got little recognition for his achievements. One example is The Monument to The Great Fire of London; even though the piece is credited to Sir Christopher Wren, Hooke played an equal part in its design and construction. He even had the ingenuity to enable it to be used as a giant telescope. Here is a chronology of Robert Hooke's life.