The Online Library of Knowledge

Great scientists

Michael Faraday

Michael Faraday in 1859Michael Faraday in 1859 English scientist Michael Faraday (1791–1867) rose from humble beginnings to become one of the greatest experimental physicists of all time. His work on the properties of electricity and magnetism revolutionized science and the technology that developed from it. He pioneered the electric motor and discovered how electricity could be generated. As a result of his work, electricity was transformed from a scientific curiosity into a powerful new technology.

Faraday in his late 30sFaraday in his late 30s

Early life

Michael Faraday was born in Newington Butts, now part of south London, the son of a blacksmith. He was only 13 when his formal education came to an end, but he continued to educate himself. He was apprenticed to a bookbinder, and used the opportunities this gave him to read scientific books.

In 1812, he heard Sir Humphrey Davy (1778–1829), one of the foremost scientists of the day, give lectures at the Royal Institution, a centre for public debate and education about science. He became Davy's assistant in 1813. The following year Faraday travelled throughout Europe with Davy and his wife, meeting many famous scientists. Faraday married Sarah Barnard in 1821. The couple had no children.

Michael Faraday refused most honours in his lifetime, including a knighthood, saying, "I must remain plain Michael Faraday to the very last."

© 2019 Q-files Ltd. All rights reserved. Switch to Mobile