Biography of Robert Hooke

Robert Hooke

Robert Hooke was a seventeenth century scientist.

When and Where was he Born?

18th July 1635, Freshwater, Isle of White.

Family background:

Robert Hooke was the son of John Hooke, curate in charge of the parish of Freshwater.

Education:

Westminster School, London. Christ Church, Oxford.

Timeline of Robert Hooke:

1648: Death of his father. Robert is sent to London for a trial with the painter Sir Peter Lely, but then moved to Westminster School, where the Headmaster Dr Richard Busby realises his genius.

1653: Hooke takes a scholar’s place at Christ Church, Oxford. He works as an assistant to John Wilkins, Warden of Wadham College, on flying machines. Wilkins was known as the leader of the Oxford Scientific Club.

1658: Robert Hooke becomes assistant to Robert Boyle on the construction of his air pump.

Robert Hooke
Plaque to Boyle and Hooke in Oxford High Street

1662: He is appointed the first Curator of Experiments at the newly founded Royal Society of London but did not sit with the full members, Boyle, Wren, Wilkins and others, but as an employee.

1665: He is created Professor of Geometry at Gresham College, London. By now he is a full member of the Royal Society and the first salaried research assistant in Great Britain. He lives in College buildings until the end of his days.

1666: After the Great fire of London Robert Hooke is appointed as City Surveyor and designs the new Bethlehem Hospital (Now Imperial War Museum) and Montague House amongst other buildings.

1674: He writes “Attempt to Prove the Motion of the Earth” which outlines his ideas on gravity.

1677-83: Hooke is appointed Secretary to the Royal Society of London.

1678: He anticipated Newton’s Law of Inverse Square in gravitation. He was a brilliant but argumentative person who became involved in numerous disputes, most notably with Sir Isaac Newton himself. He anticipated the discovery of the Steam Engine. He also constructed the first Gregorian reflecting telescope, which helped him to discover the fifth Star in Orion and the rotation of Jupiter. He also advanced the efficiency of microscopes, the quadrant and the marine barometer. Hooke’s Law describes the relationship between the stress and strains in elastic bodies. He worked on theories for the workings of the balance-spring of watches and the anchor escapement in clocks.

When and Where did he Die?

3rd March 1703, London, England.

Age at Death:

67.

Written Works:

1665: “Micrographia”.
1674: “Attempt to Prove the Motion of the Earth”.

Marriage:

Never married.

Site of Grave:

St. Helen’s Church Bishopsgate, City of London, England.

Robert Hooke Memorial
Memorial to Hooke in St Paul’s Cathedral,  London
(copyright Anthony Blagg)

Places of Interest:

BUCKINGHAMSHIRE:

Parish Church at Willen designed for his old Headmaster.

LONDON:

Bethlehem Hospital (Now Imperial War Museum).
Royal Society of London.
Montague House.

OXFORD:

Museum of the History of Science.

WARWICKSHIRE:

Ragley Hall (Designed by Hooke).