Skeptics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for scientific skepticism. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

The following was QI Fact of the Day on 10th November 2011:

Sir Isaac Newton was a cold, austere and difficult man. The slightest criticism of his work drove him into a furious rage, and his life was blighted by vicious feuds with other eminent mathematicians. A hypochondriac, obsessive, neurotic homosexual, he had no friends to speak of.

What evidence is there to support the claim that Newton was a homosexual?

share|improve this question
He was the most religious person probably during his era, period. – samayo Apr 25 '14 at 15:58
What difference does it make whether he was homosexual? – Czarek Tomczak Apr 29 '14 at 6:33
up vote 14 down vote accepted

From the book Sir Isaac Newton: Brilliant Mathematician and Scientist:
(by Natalie M. Rosinsky)

[Isaac Newton] spent almost all of 1689 in London [...] At that time, Newton began what was possibly the strongest personal relationship of his life. It was with a young Swiss mathematician named Nicolas Fatio de Duillier [...] While there is no proof that either man was homosexual, their letters suggest that their affection for one another was romantic.

From The Newton Project:

It has also been suggested - though this is purely conjectural and much disputed - that he was a repressed homosexual ...


share|improve this answer
Where are the letters at? – Cow King Feb 14 '12 at 4:40
You should point out that this book is the only one making the allegation. All the other cites are quoting it. – DJClayworth Feb 14 '12 at 21:27
@DJClayworth - The "Times Higher Education" article actually credits the book Isaac Newton: The Last Sorcerer, by author Michael White. And as far as I can tell his book predates Rosinsky's by a couple of years. – Oliver_C Feb 14 '12 at 22:31
@CowKingDeluxe - excerpts can be read in the linked book. – Oliver_C Feb 14 '12 at 22:32
@CowKing In various libraries and collections around the world. Most were sold at auction at Sotheby's in 1936. Many libraries do not perform digitization of their collections, and so the letters are only open to perusal to accredited academics invited to visit the collections for research purposes. You might try the Cambridge Digital Library. – Marcel Turing Oct 10 '15 at 22:37

The evidence for this is in fact remarkably sparse. The only reputable work that claims Newton as a homosexual is the book Sir Isaac Newton: Brilliant Mathematician and Scientist:
(by Natalie M. Rosinsky) Even this book admits that there is no hard evidence - it simply says "their letters suggest that their affection for one another was romantic."

There are a number of newspaper reports that cite the claim, but all of them are essentially quoting this one book.

However there have been many, many biographies of Sir Isaac, even modern ones, which never mentioned this allegation.

Wikipedia had a brief debate about whether to include the allegation and decided not to. You can track the argument for yourself.

share|improve this answer
The "Times Higher Education" article is from 1997 and the one from "The Guardian" is from 2005. As far as I can tell Natalie Rosinsky's book was published in 2007 – Oliver_C Feb 14 '12 at 22:48
-1 It appears that Oliver_C is right and the Rosinsky book was first published in 2007, making it impossible that the two linked articles refer to that book. Furthermore, the Times Higher Education article explicitly references Isaac Newton: The Last Sorceror (published in 1997) as its source. The Guardian article could hardly be said to be quoting anything. – called2voyage Aug 12 '13 at 17:57

protected by Oddthinking Apr 25 '14 at 11:55

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.