Writer reveals Grantham’s other science hero

Ruth Crook, writer of book about Arthur Storer
Ruth Crook, writer of book about Arthur Storer
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A science superhero to rival our own Sir Isaac Newton is championed in a new book by Grantham writer Ruth Crook.

Ruth’s pioneering research reveals Arthur Storer deserves to become a brilliant star of American history, worthy of being celebrated beyond the state of Maryland where he settled more than 300 years ago.

And that would only enhance Grantham’s standing as a birthplace for the understanding of physics, astronomy and mathematics.

Because the story of Arthur Storer - the United States’ first astronomer - as told in Ruth’s fascinating book, begins in the familiar surroundings of Grantham High Street and its then Grammar School, alongside his school chum Newton.

The book, Arthur Storer’s World - Family, Medicine and Astronomy in Seventeenth Century Lincolnshire and Maryland, has been printed in association with Grantham Civic Society and copies will be on sale during the Gravity Fields festival next month.

The festival promoted by the district council is a celebration of Grantham’s links to Sir Isaac Newton, but Ruth’s book is a timely promotion of a largely forgotten character and his remarkable work.

Ruth explained: “I started work on this project about five years ago after talking about Storer with Helen Martin, an American teacher who spoke about Newton at the King’s School.

“Storer is a very important character as the first internationally known astronomer in the United States. He and Newton were lifelong friends who communicated by letter and shared their astronomical findings after Storer emigrated.”

In this, her tenth book, Ruth tells of life in Grantham under Charles I and during the Civil War and of the early life of Storer, who was born in Buckminster.

Later Newton lived with Storer’s family at an apothecary shop in the High Street on a site now occupied by Pizza Express, and the two boys went to the Grammar School, which became the King’s School in 1908.

Although two years younger than Newton, Storer was ahead in class and a jealous rivalry may have been the spark for a fight between the two.

The older boy triumphed, although he later wrote of his bitter regret over the incident. Strangely, though, Newton’s standing rose among his peers and he and Storer began to develop their shared interest in astronomy.

This continued after Storer emigrated to Maryland with his sister and the two shared Storer’s observations about a strange object in the heavens, much later named Halley’s Comet.

Ruth, a former neo-natal nursing sister, who lives in St Andrews, Grantham, says her interest in history stems from a fascination with genealogy, which she has pursued since school days.

Her many years experience picking through documents to reveal secrets from history has led to ground-breaking work on Storer, particularly about his family in America and locally.

She said: “Every state in America wants to have a hero from history and Arthur Storer fits the bill for Maryland. He deserves to be much better known in America because he made some of the most advanced finding in astronomy at the time, using the most rudimentary equipment. It is a remarkable story.”

A book signing by Ruth will be held during the Gravity Fields festival, from Wednesday, September 24 to Sunday 28 and all profits from the book go to charity.

Copies of the book, as well as Ruth’s book on historic Vine Street in Grantham, are also available from Grantham Civic Society by contacting Courtney Finn on 01476 572506 or by emailing him at media@granthamcivicsociety.co.uk