In 2003 East Carolina University named its college of liberal arts the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences. This was in part because Thomas Harriot had been deeply involved in the first English colony in North America, sited on Roanoke Island in modern North Carolina; and because as “an adventurer, anthropologist, astronomer, author, cartographer, ethnographer, explorer, geographer, historian, linguist, mathematician, naturalist, navigator, oceanographer, philosopher, planner, scientist, surveyor, versifier and teacher,” there was hardly an area of not only the ancient but the modern liberal arts into which Harriot did not at least glance. It is not going too far to say that wherever Thomas Harriot was, there was a college of arts and sciences.
Robyn Arianhrod is both a mathematician and a writer, the author a series of wonderful books that explain maths even to those of us who are still a little frightened of them, doing so in lucid prose. She is therefore uniquely qualified to write a new and complete biography of this amazing man. It’s titled Thomas Harriot: A Life in Science, and comes out from Oxford University Press on May 1st. It gives full attention to not only his involvement in the first English attempts to colonize the North America, but to his even more important mathematical and scientific achievements. The conversation is, hopefully, a fairly painless tour through the early modern revolution in mathematics and physics.
For Further Investigation
Roanoke Island–Fort Raleigh National Historic Site
NCpedia: Thomas Harriot