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Robert Hooke diary made part of the UNESCO UK Memory of the World register

Robert Hooke's diary entry

A close up view of a page from Robert Hooke's diary.
Reference: CLC/495/MS01758

On 19 June 2014 London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) Director Geoff Pick and Principal Archivist Charlie Turpie accepted an award on behalf of LMA from UNESCO’s UK National Committee marking the inclusion of Robert Hooke’s diary on the UK Register of the UNESCO Memory of the World Register programme. The UK Memory of the World Register highlights documentary items of outstanding importance to UK history and disseminates information about them and the organisations which care for them.

Robert Hooke’s major contribution to 17th century scientific research and London architecture is clearly revealed in his diary. Kept as a memorandum book to remind him of the many places he had been and people he had met each day, along with his pithy thoughts and observations about scientific research and the world around him, the diary offers an unparalleled glimpse into the exciting and vibrant world of restoration scientific discovery and the rebuilding of London from the ashes of the Great Fire.

Hooke did not intend his diary to be read by anyone else, so he could be candid in his observations about himself and his contemporaries. The diary shows a man striving to be open and honest with himself. He found his body and habits to be worthy of investigation and research, so he noted his symptoms and the experimental, sometimes dangerous, medicines he self-administered.

Famed for his irascibility and scientific rows, the evidence of the diary suggests he was often both gregarious (with many evenings in taverns and coffee houses recorded) and collaborative - working closely and amiably with many colleagues, especially Sir Christopher Wren. At other times he confided in the diary his bitter feelings towards scientists whom he believed had stolen his ideas and inventions or deliberately under represented his achievements and contribution. Entries in the diary have allowed historians to cast light on these painful rows and also to investigate the diverse lines of enquiry he was pursuing in many different fields of knowledge.

LMA holds Hooke’s diary, 1672-1683 (reference CLC/495/MS01758) which can be consulted with advance notice and at LMA’s discretion - please email ask.lma@cityoflondon.gov.uk to make an enquiry.

Other archives received awards from UNESCO on the same evening and LMA congratulates them all, especially our close neighbours at the British Postal Museum and Archive.

Further information

  • Find out more about Robert Hooke.
  • You can now leaf through the pages of the diary on our online catalogue.
  • Doctor Felicity Henderson is working on a new edition of Hooke’s Diary for the Oxford University Press and blogs about her progress at http://hookeslondon.com/.
  • You can find out more about the UNESCO's Memory of the world Register at the UNESCO website.
  • Discover more about the amazing collections held at LMA on our collections pages.
  • Discover London's past through Collage: The London Picture Archive, including a plan for the redevelopment of London after the Great Fire of 1666 made by Hooke.

 

Published:
18 June 2014
Last Modified:
29 September 2017

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