Inventors and Invention in the Nineteenth Century

  • John Jewkes
  • David Sawers
  • Richard Stillerman


There has been much writing about the many nineteenth-century inventors, from which it seems possible to obtain an accurate general picture of the manner in which they lived. It is much less easy to be certain about how they worked and thought. The inventor’s mind must always be a matter of some mystery, although it ought to be possible to discover how far he based his work on scientific knowledge, how methodical was his approach to a subject, and whether he was disposed to seek the help of scientists. In fact, many contradictory answers have been given to these questions, especially to the second, and usually the more extensive the writings about a particular inventor the more numerous the contradictions. In such cases all that can be done is to draw attention to the conflicting opinions, although, wherever an inventor’s own statements are available, they have been given because they sometimes resolve the conflicts and should, perhaps, be treated with more respect than those of writers whose information is second-hand.


Nineteenth Century Steam Turbine Viscose Rayon Lamp Filament Viscose Process 
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  1. 1.
    Charles C. Gillespie, ‘The Discovery of the Leblanc Process’, Isis, June 1957.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    In his Introduction to P. F. Mottelay, The Life and Work of Sir Hiram Maxim, 1920, p. xvi.Google Scholar
  3. F. W. Wile, Emile Berliner, 1926, pp. 203–4. Berliner had to overcome this attitude when he visited Germany in 1889.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© John Jewkes, David Sawers and Richard Stillerman 1969

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Jewkes
  • David Sawers
  • Richard Stillerman

There are no affiliations available

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