Three: History & Examples

Commonplace books (or commonplaces) are a way to compile knowledge, usually by writing information into books. They have been kept from antiquity, and were kept particularly during the Renaissance and in the nineteenth century.

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The following all had/kept commonplaces:

  • Charles Darwin
  • Francis Bacon
  • Ben Jonson
  • John Milton
  • Mrs Anna Anderson
  • E.M. Forster
  • John Locke
  • W.H. Auden
  • H.P. Lovecraft
  • Virginia Woolf
  • Joseph Conrad
  • Washington Irving
  • Victor Hugo
  • Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton, a mathematician and physicist, used a “Waste Book” to write his initial conceptualization of the calculus. A digitized copy of this commonplace is held at the University of Cambridge and is freely available to view online.

 

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Chris Aldrich

I'm a biomedical and electrical engineer with interests in information theory, complexity, evolution, genetics, signal processing, theoretical mathematics, and big history. I'm also a talent manager-producer-publisher in the entertainment industry with expertise in representation, distribution, finance, production, content delivery, and new media.

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