Laura Snyder weaves tales of Victorian-era scientists that have been described as “fit for Masterpiece Theater.”
A work of history should be more than a collection of happenings, at least from Laura Snyder’s perspective. The Fulbright Scholar, historian of science and professor of philosophy at St. John's University believes histories should aim not only to tell a story, but also to transport a reader through time.
Snyder’s work presents three-dimensional characters that readers connect with. Her most recent book, The Philosophical Breakfast Club, traces the friendship of four 19th-century scientists who met at Cambridge: Charles Babbage (mathematics and computing), William Whewell (math economics), John Herschel (astronomy and photography) and Richard Jones (economy). Inspired by Francis Bacon's ideas, they coined the word “scientist” and were central in transforming science from the province of the amateur (practitioners were until then called "natural philosophers") to a professional system.