• Michael Faraday


Michael Faraday (Newington Butts, Surrey, 22 September 1791-Hampton Court, nr. Richmond, Surrey, 25 August 1867) was born and died in places which are now parts of greater London. His father (who came from Yorkshire) was a blacksmith. Michael was born in a house adjacent to his father’s shop near what was once the village of Walworth. To-day’s landmark nearest the legendary site is 60 Walworth Road. The family was in poor circumstances, so that at the age of thirteen Michael was working for a newsagent and bookbinder, George Riebau. The boy’s mind was alert and inquisitive and, with his master’s permission, he read books which came to the shop for binding, including articles on electricity in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and the Conversations on Chemistry of Mrs. Marcet (see Vol. III, p. 708), which aroused his interest in those subjects. He also attended evening lectures on natural philosophy by a Mr. Tatum. Some letters to his friend Abbott show that in 1812 Faraday was making simple experiments in chemistry and electricity, which he describes in a remarkably exact and interesting way. In that year a customer, a Mr. Dance, gave him a ticket for Davy’s last course of lectures at the Royal Institution. Faraday wrote out the lectures, on radiént (sic) matter, chlorine, simple inflammables, and metals.1 Faraday sent his manuscript of the lectures to Davy, with a request for scientific employment. (He had previously written tó Sir Joseph Banks, the president of the Royal Society, without result.)


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© J. R. Partington 1964

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  • Michael Faraday

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