Edwin Abbott Abbott

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Edwin Abbott Abbott (December 20, 1838 - 1926), English schoolmaster and theologian, is best known as the author of the mathematical satire Flatland (1884). Abbott was the eldest son of Edwin Abbott (1808 - 1882), headmaster of the Philological School, Marylebone, and his wife, Jane Abbott (1806 - 1882). His parents were first cousins.

He was educated at the City of London School and at St John's College, Cambridge, where he took the highest honours in classics, mathematics and theology, and became fellow of his college. In 1862 he took orders. After holding masterships at King Edward's School, Birmingham, and at Clifton College, he succeeded G. F. Mortimer as headmaster of the City of London School in 1865 at the early age of twenty-six. He was Hulsean lecturer in 1876.

His most famous work, and certainly the one which merits his inclusion in this archive is Flatland: a romance of many dimensions (1884) which Abbott wrote under the pseudonym of A Square. The book has seen many editions, the sixth edition of 1953 being reprinted by Princeton University Press in 1991 with an introduction by Thomas Banchoff. Flatland is an account of the adventures of A Square in Lineland and Spaceland. In it Abbott tries to popularise the notion of multidimensional geometry but the book is also a clever satire on the social, moral, and religious values of the period.

He retired in 1889, and devoted himself to literary and theological pursuits. Dr. Abbott's liberal inclinations in theology were prominent both in his educational views and in his books. His Shakespearian Grammar (1870) is a permanent contribution to English philology. In 1885 he published a life of Francis Bacon. His theological writings include three anonymously published religious romances - Philochristus (1878), Onesimus (1882), and Sitanus (1906).

More weighty contributions are the anonymous theological discussion The Kernel and the Husk (1886), Philomythus (1891), his book The Anglican Career of Cardinal Newman (1892), and his article "The Gospels" in the ninth edition of the Encyclop�dia Britannica, embodying a critical view which caused considerable stir in the English theological world. He also wrote St Thomas of Canterbury, his Death and Miracles (1898), Johannine Vocabulary (1905), Johannine Grammar (1906). Flatland was published in 1884.

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