John Brashear

John Alfred Brashear, an American optician and telescope maker, was born Nov. 24, 1840. A machinist and millwright by trade, he taught himself to make astronomical instruments in a shed out back of his Pittsburgh home, driven by childhood memories of looking through a...

Johannes Diderik Van der Wals

Johannes Diderik Van der Waals, a Dutch physicist, was born Nov. 3, 1837.  Van der Waals was one of the pioneers of molecular physics.  The molecule was a shady entity in the late 19th century, useful for theorists, but to many physicists, not demonstrably real.  Van...

George Eliot

Mary Ann Evans (or Marian Evans), an English novelist better known as George Eliot, was born Nov. 22, 1819.  Evans came from a provincial family in Warwickshire, then Coventry; she was well-educated by tutors and gradually came to sympathize with dissenters and...

Thomas Shadwell

Thomas Shadwell, an English playwright, died Nov. 19, 1692, at about age 50. In May of 1676, Shadwell’s play The Virtuoso opened at the Dorset Garden Theater in London (third image, below). The play was a satire on the fledgling Royal Society of London, chartered in...

Pierre Bayle

Pierre Bayle, a French philosopher, was born Nov. 18, 1647.   Bayle was born into a Protestant family in southernmost France, south of Toulouse, and he grew up at a time when the Huguenots, the original French Protestants, were being increasingly persecuted by...