Cambridge University Library


Beauty and the Book

Oliver Byrne

Image from 'The elements of Euclid'

Oliver Byrne, The first six books of the elements of Euclid, (London: William Pickering, 1847)

Oliver Byrne's edition of Euclid was published in 1847 by William Pickering and printed by Chiswick Press. The book covered the first six books of Euclid, which incorporates elementary plane geometry and the theory of proportions. Byrne hoped that using colour diagrams and symbols in place of letters would make Euclid easier to understand. This book was one of a very small number of British books displayed at the Great Exhibition of 1851. McLean calls Byrne's book one of the oddest and most beautiful books of the century.