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Dr Andrew Ure FRS [etc]: a slight sketch, reprinted from The Times..., 1875


Dr Andrew Ure, FRS, [etc.]: a slight sketch, reprinted from ''The Times'' and various other periodicals, of January, 1857 by Anon. 1875

As would be expected from a collection featuring eminent scientists and thinkers, many of our books come from publishing house big-hitters of the 18th and 19th centuries, like John Murray and Macmillan. Often more interesting, however, are privately published titles such as this anonymous biographical sketch of Dr Andrew Ure (1778 – 1857), a scientific polymath known chiefly for his work in chemistry and manufacturing (and also as the inspiration for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818)).

Though the pattern on its cover is humble, it is clear that substantial personal expense and time has gone into producing this little book: the gold border is continued on every page, and two photographs – a portrait of Ure and of a Tablet honouring him in Glasgow Cathedral – have been inserted by hand.

Privately published items such as this were common in the 19th Century as publishing became cheaper and more widespread; it is likely that it would have been handed out in person to those who knew Ure as a reminder of his life and works. It is intriguing to ponder why it was published 20 years after his death. Perhaps it was to mark the centenary of his birth, or maybe interest in his work was growing (or waning). Regardless, it is a touching celebration of the scientist, and a fine example of personal publishing in this period.
  • The Library operates a sponsorship scheme to help preserve and restore its rare books. For more information, contact Michael McKimm in the library, or see the Sponsor A Book page on the Society’s website: