• Full title:   Michael Faraday's telegraphy letter to William Thomson
  • Created:   1859
  • Formats:  Letter
  • Creator:   Michael Faraday
  • Copyright: © Model.CollectionItem.CopyrightDisplayForCollectionItem()
  • Usage terms Public Domain
  • Held by  British Library
  • Shelfmark:   Add. MS 48983


Michael Faraday (1791 - 1867) established the field of electromagnetism and invented the electric motor, transformer and generator.

Faraday rose from laboratory assistant to become Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Institution in 1833. In this letter of 1859, he is writing to William Thomson, Chair of Natural Philosophy at the University of Glasgow, where he had transformed the discipline through studies of heat and electricity as well as his approach to physics education through practical laboratory instruction.

Thomson was famous for the application of electrical measurements to telegraphy, taking his initial approach to the problem of propagating telegraph signals over long distances from Faraday who suggested treating underwater cable as Leyden jars (devices to store electric charge).

This letter from Faraday to Thomson is written at a critical period in Thomson’s studies of problems in telegraphy following the failure of the Atlantic telegraph.

Faraday comments on Thomson’s experiments and uses diagrams to discuss problems of electromagnetic induction with reference to various metals and substances. Faraday also makes reference to his own approach to science. He wrote: 'I never can judge an experiment and make up my mind about it without doing it.