Home / Previous / Next / Site Map
Image 3: Young Faraday (Williams)
A Book Binder
Michael Faraday was born in the year 1791 in Newington, Surrey England. His parents were poor, and in 1796 his father moved the family to London in search of better work as a blacksmith. His father was a sickly man, and because of this Michael found work at the age of 13 as an errand boy for a local bookbinder.
Mr. Riebau, the owner of the bookbinding shop, hired the boy to deliver books and newsletters to his patrons. During breaks, Riebau encouraged Michael to read books and to study. As Faraday grew older, he began attending local lectures held by John Tatum. At the lectures he took shorthand notes, and later rewrote the notes in more depth. While attending Tatum's lectures, Faraday became increasingly interested in chemistry as well as electricity. It was through these lectures that Faraday learned most of what he knew about electricity, galvanism, hydrostatics, optics and geology (Williams).
In 1813, at the age of 21, Faraday became a lab assistant at the Royal Institute in London under the well known scientist Sir Humphrey Davy. Under Davy, Faraday washed test tubes, and assembled lab equipment for Davy public lectures. With the little time he had after his duties, Faraday began conducting some of his own elementary experiments (Kaplan).
In the years that followed, Faraday continued to learn and practice experiments at the Royal Institute. In 1821, he married a young lady from his church named Sarah Barnard, and the couple moved in to the upstairs of the Royal Institute. This still did not inhibit Faraday love of science. He continued to work hard, and in that same year, he invented the electric motor (Agassi).
Through all his hard work, Faraday became ill in his late years. He was often very sickly, but remained at the Royal Institute working hard as ever. He was offered many accolades for his work such as knighthood, and the presidency of the Royal Institute, but always turned them down. In 1862, he and his wife retired to Hampton Court as a pensioner of the Queen. Faraday, childless, died here at the age of 76 in 1867, as poor as the day he was born.