Emilie du Châtelet

4 Feb, 2021 510 Mathematics

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of the outstanding French mathematicians and natural philosophers of the 18th Century, celebrated across Europe. Emilie du Chatelet, 1706-49, created a translation of Newton’s Principia from Latin into French that helped spread the light of mathematics on the emerging science, and her own book Institutions de Physique, with its lessons on physics, was welcomed as profound. She had the privileges of wealth and aristocracy, yet had to fight to be taken seriously as an intellectual in a world of ideas that was almost exclusively male.

Listen on BBC Sounds website


  • Patricia Fara 17 episodes
    Emeritus Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge
  • David Wootton 16 episodes
    Anniversary Professor of History at the University of York
  • Judith Zinsser No other episodes
    Professor Emerita of History at Miami University of Ohio

Reading list

  • Emilie Du Chatelet and the Foundations of Physical Science
    Katherine Brading (Routledge, 2019) Google Books →
  • Selected Philosophical and Scientific Writings
    Emilie Du Chatelet (ed. Judith P. Zinsser and trans. Isabelle Bour and Judith P. Zinsser) (University of Chicago Press, 2009)
  • Pandora's Breeches: Women, Science and Power in the Enlightenment
    Patricia Fara (Pimlico, 2004) Google Books →
  • Scientists Anonymous: Great Stories of Women in Science
    Patricia Fara (Icon Books Ltd, 2007) Google Books →
  • The Mind Has No Sex?: Women in the Origins of Modern Science
    Londa Schiebinger (Harvard University Press, 1991) Google Books →
  • Science for a Polite Society: Gender, Culture, and the Demonstration of Enlightenment
    Geoffrey V. Sutton (Perseus, 1997) Google Books →
  • The Man who Flattened the Earth: Maupertuis and the Sciences in the Enlightenment
    Mary Terrall (University of Chicago Press, 2006) Google Books →
  • Power, Pleasure and Profit: Insatiable Appetites from Machiavelli to Madison
    David Wootton (Belknap Press, 2018) Google Books →
  • Emilie Du Chatelet: Daring Genius of the Enlightenment
    Judith P. Zinsser (Penguin, 2007) Google Books →

Related episodes

Programme ID: m000rvnj

Episode page: bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000rvnj

Auto-category: 510.92 (History of Mathematics - Women mathematicians)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, Emilie du Châtelet, 1706 to 1749, was an outstanding French mathematician and natural philosopher, celebrated across Europe.