The mathematical culture of early modern London was extraordinarily rich with a multitude of authors, printers, booksellers, instrument makers, and accountants plying their trade. Knowledge was communicated, disseminated, and taught primarily by men with a practical background in a variety of locations ranging from coffee shops to the homes of more well off individuals. Mathematics permeated warehouses, dockyards, and building sites, while its practitioners frequented public lectures at Gresham College or joined one of a number of clubs devoted to promoting geometry, astronomy or more practical disciplines such as navigation.
The talk will consider the role of Euclid’s Elements of Geometry in this culture of learning and practice against the background of an almost complete absence of organized instruction in mathematics in seventeenth-century England. It will conclude by suggesting that advances in practical mathematics were directly related to a call for the reform of university teaching in mathematics around 1700.