Science & Education

, Volume 24, Issue 7–8, pp 1039–1042 | Cite as

Revolutions in Print

James A. Secord: Visions of Science: Books and Readers at the Dawn of the Victorian Age, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2014, 306 pp, Price: £18.99, ISBN: 9780199675265 (hardback)
  • Jo Elcoat
Book Review

The Power of Science

In Visions of Science, James Secord provides insightful analyses of seven works published at the dawn of the Victorian age: Humphrey Davy’s Consolations in Travel (1830), Charles Babbage’s Reflections on the Decline of Science in England (1830), John Herschel’s Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy (1830), Mary Somerville’s On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences (1834), Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology (1830–1833), George Combe’s Constitution of Man (1828) and Thomas Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus (1833–1834). For Secord, these diverse works are profitably considered together as they were published at a “utopian moment” (p. viii) in the history of science in Britain. They were all “reflective treatises” (p. 23)—works of philosophy, science and imagination—that offered visions of the power of science to shape the future in a period when Britain seemed to be on the brink of revolution.

In his introduction, Secord captures the intensity of...


  1. Crowe Michael, J. (2004). Herschel, Sir John Frederick William, first baronet (1792–1871). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press; online edn, May 2009. Accessed October 5 2014 (
  2. Secord, J. A. (2000). Victorian sensation: The extraordinary publication, reception and secret authorship of vestiges of the natural history of creation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for the History and Philosophy of ScienceUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

Personalised recommendations