Rare Isaac Newton Manuscript Discovered in Corsican Library

Rare Isaac Newton Manuscript Discovered in Corsican Library

A copy of the first edition of Isaac Newton’s book stating his three laws of motion has been found in a library on the French island of Corsica.

Vannina Schirinsky-Schikhmatoff , conservation director for the public heritage library, says she discovered the 17th-century copy of the work while studying an index to the library’s founder, Lucien Bonaparte, one of Napoleon’s brothers.

Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica

The text, Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica ( Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy) was first published by Newton in 1687 . The English translations were published later, but the original editions are still prized by collectors.


It’s not the first rare find in Fesch’s library since an in-depth review of its holdings began a few years ago.

In 2018, Schirinsky-Schikhmatoff released a Thesaurum Hyeroglyphicorum study of Egyptian hieroglyphs dating back to 1610, some 200 years before Frenchman Jean-Francois Champollion deciphered parts of the Rosetta Stone.

The copy of the first edition of the Principia that belonged to Isaac Newton, containing handwritten annotations and corrections, is in the Wren Library, Trinity College, Cambridge .

Among Newton’s scientific findings is the discovery that the color spectrum observed when white light passes through a prism is inherent in that light, rather than coming from the prism (as had been postulated by Roger Bacon in the 19th century XIII); his argument about the possibility that light was composed of particles; or his development of a law of thermal convection, which describes the rate of cooling of objects exposed to air.