Hamilton's debt to John T Graves

William Rowan Hamilton wrote the following letter to the Philosophical Magazine on 20 November 1844:

To the Editors of the Philosophical Magazine and Journal.


I have been induced to think that the account contained in the following letter, of the considerations which led me to conceive that the theory of quaternions, a part of which you have done me the honour to publish in two recent Numbers (for July and October) of your Magazine, might not be without interest to some of your readers. Should you think proper to insert it, a public acknowledgement (very pleasing to my own feelings) will have been rendered, on the one hand to the Rev Mr Warren, whose work on the Geometrical Representation of the Square Roots of Negative Quantities (printed at Cambridge in 1828) long since attracted my attention and influenced my thoughts; and on the other hand to the gentleman (John T Graves Esq), to whom the letter was addressed, and with whom I had been engaged, at intervals, for many years in a correspondence, very instructive and suggestive to me, on subjects connected therewith. Nor am I without hope that Mr Graves may thus be led to communicate through you to mathematicians some of the extensions which he has made of results of mine, with some of those other speculations which are still more fully his own. ...

Last Updated February 2016