As for Poetry, inter it
With the myths of other days.
Cut the thing entirely, lest yon
College Don should put the question,
Why not stick to what you're best on?
Mathematics always pays.
(A Vision of a Wrangler, of a University, of Pedantry, and of Philosophy, 139-144)
James Clerk Maxwell was born on Nov. 13, 1831, at 14 India St., Edinburgh, to John Clerk Maxwell and Frances Cay. The family home to which he would at last retire was at Glenlair, but after his mother's death young James was sent to Edinburgh for schooling at the Edinburgh Academy, from 1840 to 1847. He excelled at both English and mathematics. His education continued at the University of Edinburgh (1847-50) and Peterhouse College in the University of Cambridge (1850-54), which graduated him as Second Wrangler. After several years as a fellow at Trinity College Cambridge, lecturing on hydrostatics and optics, Maxwell took a position as Professor of Natural Philosophy at Marischal College, Aberdeen, for two years (1856-57). Katherine Mary Dewar and he wed there in June 1858, and then Maxwell became Professor of Natural Philosophy at King's College, London. They lived at 8 Palace Gardens Terrace, Kensington. He retired to Glenlair from 1866 to 1870 after suffering from erysipelas, but returned to academe on March 8, 1871, when he assumed the Chair of Experimental Physics at the University of Cambridge. Here Maxwell brought out his greatest works, Theory of Heat (1871), Electricity and Magnetism (1873), and Matter and Motion (1876), but he also helped design and supervised the erection of the Cavendish Laboratory. Throughout his life, Maxwell loved English poetry and committed much of it to memory. He wrote poems himself, which were collected and published by his friend Lewis Campbell in 1882. He evidently sang the most well-known, his homage to Burns' "Comin thro' the Rye," while playing a guitar. The scientist who created one of the most famous of thought experiments, "Maxwell's demon" (which made entropy understandable to the un-numbered), died a Christian on Nov. 5, 1879.
Given name: James Clerk
Family name: Maxwell
Birth date: 13 November 1831
Death date: 5 November 1879
father: John Clerk Maxwell
mother: Frances Cay Maxwell
wife: Katherine Mary Dewar Maxwell
Edinburgh Academy: 1840 to 1847
University of Edinburgh: 1847 to 1850
Peterhouse College, University of Cambridge: 1850 to 1854
Literary period: Victorian
Professor: 1856 to 1879
Edinburgh, Scotland (14 India Street): 1831 to 1850
Cambridge, England: 1850 to 1854
Aberdeen, Scotland: 1856 to 1857
Kensington, London (8 Palace Gardens Terrace): 1858 to 1866
Glenlair, Scotland: 1866 to 1870
Cambridge, England: 1870 to 1879
First RPO edition: 2001