Mathematics for the World: Publishing Mathematics and the International Book Trade, Macmillan and Co.

  • Sylvia Marie NickersonEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Proceedings of the Canadian Society for History and Philosophy of Mathematics/La Société Canadienne d’Histoire et de Philosophie des Mathématiques book series (PCSHPM)


Several historians including Andrew Warwick, Joan Richards, and Tony Crilly have offered explanations for why a stale culture of mathematics existed in nineteenth-century England. Nineteenth-century British culture did not generally regard mathematics as capable of failure, growth, or change. This paper argues that a significant contributing influence to this climate was book publishers, and the publisher Macmillan and Company in particular. From 1850 to 1900 Macmillan published hundreds of thousands of mathematical textbooks through industrialized book production. Macmillan distributed these pedagogical materials throughout the UK, Canada, the USA, Australia, India, and elsewhere. Motivated by profits from sales, and abetted by the efforts of their collaborator on mathematical subjects, Isaac Todhunter, Macmillan perpetuated a stale, Cambridge-centric image of mathematics among subsequent generations of mathematical learners in educational contexts around the world. How some of these books may have shaped the pedagogical experience of Canadian mathematician J. C. Fields during his high school and undergraduate education in mathematics is considered.


Mathematical Education Book Publisher Book Trade Mathematical Textbook British Library 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The author would like to thank Craig Fraser, June Barrow-Green, and Nicholas Griffin for their helpful comments on past iterations of the present work. Research conducted for this article was undertaken while funded by a Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplement and a Canada Graduate Scholarship (SSHRC). Errors are the author’s own.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.York UniversityTorontoCanada

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