Writer’s Note: David Williamson, NEARER THE GODS

7 Feb 2022

Isaac Newton gave the world the greatest leap in knowledge we’ve ever been gifted. He showed that gravity wasn’t just some odd little local force that pulled apples to the ground but the powerful invisible glue that stretched to infinity and held our whole universe together.

What isn’t as well known is the intense drama surrounding the discovery. Drama which almost stopped it happening. The problem was two fold. Newton had one of the most powerful brains of all time, but just when that brain was needed he was on the verge of becoming unhinged. Secondly he had a deadly rival, Robert Hooke, determined to cripple Newton’s efforts. In the end it fell to two of history’s great heroes, Edmund Halley and his wife Mary to sort the mess out.

I couldn’t resist this story as it is a startling and blackly comic example of the fact that being brilliant, as Newton and Hooke both were, doesn’t mean you can’t also be vain, paranoid, ridden with competitive jealousy and on occasions just plain stupid. The heights of human achievement and the depths of petty bastardry can coincide in the same people.

David Williamson (1 Feb 2022)

On stage 4 Mar – 23 Apr, book now.