Betts, Jonathan

Time Restored : The Harrison timekeepers and R.T. Gould, the man who knew (almost) everything

Betts, Jonathan - Time Restored : The Harrison timekeepers and R.T. Gould, the man who knew (almost) everything, ebook


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Biography of the polymath, Lt Cmdr Rupert T. Gould (1890-1948), the man who, in the 1920s, restored the great eighteenth century marine timekeepers by John Harrison to their former glory. With his encyclopaedic knowledge, he studied and wrote on subjects as varied as scientific mysteries (e.g. The Loch Ness Monster) and horology (timekeeping). - ;This is the story of Rupert T. Gould (1890-1948), the polymath and horologist. A remarkable man, Lt Cmdr Gould made important contributions in an extraordinary range of subject areas throughout his relatively short and dramatically troubled life. From antique clocks to scientific mysteries, from typewriters to the first systematic study of the Loch Ness Monster, Gould studied and published on them all. With the title The Stargazer, Gould was an early broadcaster on the BBC's
Children's Hour when, with his encyclopaedic knowledge, he became known as The Man Who Knew Everything. Not surprisingly, he was also part of that elite group on BBC radio who formed The Brains Trust, giving on-the-spot answers to all manner of wide ranging and difficult questions. With his wide learning
and photographic memory, Gould awed a national audience, becoming one of the era's radio celebrities.

During the 1920s Gould restored the complex and highly significant marine timekeepers constructed by John Harrison (1693-1776), and wrote the unsurpassed classic, The Marine Chronometer, its History and Development. Today he is virtually unknown, his horological contributions scarcely mentioned in Dava Sobel's bestseller Longitude. The TV version of Longitude, in which Jeremy Irons played Rupert Gould, did at least introduce Gould's name to a wider public.

Gould suffered terrible bouts of depression, resulting in a number of nervous breakdowns. These, coupled with his obsessive and pedantic nature, led to a scandalously-reported separation from his wife and cost him his family, his home, his job, and his closest friends.

In this first-ever biography of Rupert Gould, Jonathan Betts, the Royal Observatory Greenwich's Senior Horologist, has given us a compelling account of a talented but flawed individual. Using hitherto unknown personal journals, the family's extensive collection of photographs, and the polymath's surviving records and notes, Betts tells the story of how Gould's early life, his naval career, and his celebrity status came together as this talented Englishman restored part of Britain's - and the
world's - most important technical heritage: John Harrison's marine timekeepers. - ;"Time restored" can be enjoyed as a well crafted description of the horological contributions of an important persona of his time, but for the reader so inclined, it is much more, it is a sensitive portrait of a troubled, but brilliant human being, who pursued his horological and scholarly goals against the odds imposed by society and his era. Fortunat Mueller-Maerki, Sussex, NJ, December 29, 2006 - ;Gould's life [is] more than adequately and very readably portrayed in [this book]... - John Hunter, Clocks Magazine, January 2007;Betts has produced a finely crafted biography full of lovingly observed insight into Gould's character, including his many personal failings. But the book is much more than a biography. Lisa Jardine, Nature, Vol. 444, December 2006. - ;Betts tells his tale very well. In addition to being a 'good read', Time Restored is a work of considerate scholarship; there are over 400 footnotes and six appendices including a bibliography reading list, and glossary. Most usefully there is a comprehensive index...Packed with information for the serious student of horology, there is also so much in this book for the general reader, especially those interested in social history. QP Magazine, Issue Twenty One
2006 - ;...Time Restored like the works of the subject R.T. Gould, is an important contribution to horological literature. It is very accessible and highly recommended. Horological Journal, October 2006 It is very accessible and highly recommended. Horological Journal, October 2006 - ;Horologist and author Jonathan Betts, the current curator of the Harrison timekeepers at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, has crafted a chronicle of a poignant moment in the history of time. Time Restored, his extensively researched biography of Rupert Gould, brings back the man who brought back John Harrison's sea clocks. Just as Gould lovingly restored the long-neglected timepieces (now recognized as national treasures) Betts has taken apart Gould's tumultuous life and
reassembled it in perfectly readable order -- sea serpents and all. Dava Sobel, author of Longitude, Galileos Daughter and The Planets -

Keywords: SCIENCE / General SCI000000

Oxford University Press
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Natural Sciences
Technology, Energy, Traffic

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