"An exuberant enthusiasm for mathematics (and life in general) shines through Dr. Hart." —The New York Times
“An absolute joy to read!" —Steven Levitt, New York Times bestselling author of Freakonomics
For fans of Seven Brief Lessons in Physics, an exploration of the many ways mathematics can transform our understanding of literature and vice versa, by the first woman to hold England's oldest mathematical chair.
We often think of mathematics and literature as polar opposites. But what if, instead, they were fundamentally linked? In her clear, insightful, laugh-out-loud funny debut, Once Upon a Prime, Professor Sarah Hart shows us the myriad connections between math and literature, and how understanding those connections can enhance our enjoyment of both.
Did you know, for instance, that Moby-Dick is full of sophisticated geometry? That James Joyce’s stream-of-consciousness novels are deliberately checkered with mathematical references? That George Eliot was obsessed with statistics? That Jurassic Park is undergirded by fractal patterns? That Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote mathematician characters? From sonnets to fairytales to experimental French literature, Professor Hart shows how math and literature are complementary parts of the same quest, to understand human life and our place in the universe.
As the first woman to hold England’s oldest mathematical chair, Professor Hart is the ideal tour guide, taking us on an unforgettable journey through the books we thought we knew, revealing new layers of beauty and wonder. As she promises, you’re going to need a bigger bookcase.
About the Author
Sarah Hart is a respected pure mathematician and a gifted expositor of mathematics. When promoted to full Professor of Mathematics at Birkbeck College (University of London) in 2013, she became the youngest STEM professor at Birkbeck and its first ever woman Mathematics Professor and one of only five women Mathematics Professors under the age of 40 in the United Kingdom. Educated at Oxford and Manchester, Dr Hart currently holds the Gresham Professorship of Geometry, the oldest mathematics chair in the UK. The chair stretches back in an unbroken lineage to 1597. Dr Hart is the 33rd Gresham Professor of Geometry, and the first woman ever to hold the position.
"An exuberant enthusiasm for mathematics (and life in general) shines through Dr. Hart."
—The New York Times
“An absolute joy to read! Sarah Hart has created something wonderful: from nursery rhymes to Moby-Dick, she uncovers hidden links that I never could have imagined, but which I will never forget.”
—Steven Levitt, New York Times bestselling author of Freakonomics
“As an actress and math advocate, I often long for people to see the poetry in mathematics. I love this book. Sarah Hart illuminates hidden patterns and beautiful mathematics in well-known literature in a way that, simply put, fills me with joy. Brava!”
—Danica McKellar, actress and New York Times bestselling author
“A hugely entertaining and well-written tour of the links between math and literature. Hart’s lightness of touch and passion for both subjects make this book a delight to read. Bookworms and numberlovers alike will discover much they didn’t know about the creative interplay between stories, structure, and sums.”
—Alex Bellos, author of Here’s Looking at Euclid
“This lively and personal book uncovers quirky nuggets of mathematics in a wide variety of literature, with new perspectives on books I’ve already read and intriguing mathematical reasons to seek out some books I haven’t. Professor Hart is a welcome and fresh new voice in bringing math to a wider audience.”
—Eugenia Cheng, author of x+y and How to Bake Pi