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Young, Thomas (1773-1829)

Young, Thomas, (1773-1829)
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Miscellany: British, mainly 19th-20th centuries
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


Two letters from Thomas Young, one to John Knowles, 26 Mar 1821, concerning meeting of the Committee on Tonnage, one to Monsieur [Arago], Observatoire Royal, Rue d'Enfer, Paris, 1 Jan 1824, and articles for a publication, including one on optics. With newspaper cutting of biographical details of Thomas Young.



Physical description

3 items

Acquisition note

Provenance details not recorded (acc.67430); Purchased from Desgranges, Paris, June 1930 (acc.67390).

Biographical note

Eminent English physician, physicist and child prodigy; Egyptologist; fellow of the Royal Society 1794, MD Gottingen 1796, MB Cambridge 1803, MD 1808, FRCP 1809, Croonian Lecturer 1822-1823, physician to St George's Hospital 1811-1829. He studied medicine in London, Edinburgh and Göttingen and worked as a physician in London. A pioneer in physical optics, he discovered the cause of astigmatism and was the first to realise that the eye focuses by changing the shape of the lens. Was one of the first to suggest the theory of the colour mixture and receiving mechanisms in the retina of the eye and that all colours constructed by the eye were made from a mixture of red green and blue/violet colour receptors. Carried out important experiments in sound, the nature of light and colour. In 1801 he was appointed professor for physics at the Royal Institution, London, but in 1804 he gave up this position in favour of his medical work as Physician to St George's Hospital. In 1802 he became foreign secretary to the Royal Society, which he remained until his death. He also studied oriental languages and contributed to translating the famous Rosetta Stone, which was the key to understanding Egyptian hieroglyphics. Made a fellow of the Royal Society in 1794 and elected Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1809.

Finding aids

Archives and Manuscripts, Wellcome Library, on-line catalogue.


  • English

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