Oliver Heaviside the Man

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Oliver Heaviside the Man
Author Ivor Catt
Published 1987
Publisher C.A.M. Publishing
Pages 79
ISBN 0906340055

The late G.F.C. Searle, F.R.S., who was the friend of Oliver Heaviside for 33 years, wrote this, the only lengthy Heaviside biography, in 1950. Discovered and Edited by Ivor Catt. First published in January, 1987. No full biography of Oliver Heaviside has been published. When that gap is filled, these recollections by G. F. C. Searle will be an important source for the description of Heaviside's way of life. Heaviside endured, with wry humour, the discomforts of ill health and of various degrees of poverty; he made himself a prisoner in his own house, seeing fewer and fewer visitors. Searle was the last link with the academic world. Although Searle was one of the few who understood part at least of Heaviside's work, the book is concerned only with the person and not the work.

The manuscript of this book was completed in 1950, 25 years after Heaviside's death, and then remained unpublished for 37 years more; and it is no longer in the editor's possession. Inevitably one asks whether the text is genuine. Almost certainly, yes. Searle's style is inimitable, and so is Heaviside's in his letter that are quoted. But Searle told me in 1950, at the Heaviside Centenary meetings, that he had not been allowed to say all he had wanted to; and it may be that the manuscript now published is also incomplete. The editor of the book tells me that the manuscript was not a continuous whole, and that he placed it in order and omitted nothing except duplications. This I accept, but wonder whether Searle, who was not a man to leave anything untidy, regarded it as still unfinished.

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