Michael Faraday

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Although best known for his discoveries in Physics, Michael Faraday considered himself to be a natural philosopher.

In 1804, at the age of 13 and after a year's trial, Michael was apprenticed to George Riebau, a bookbinder and stationer, who kept a shop in Blandford Street, Manchester Square. Michael's conduct had been so exemplary that he was taken without a fee.

He later had the good fortune to be employed as laboratory assistant by Humphry Davy, at the Royal Institution, eventually succeeding him as director in 1827.

Michael was fascinated by electrical phenomena and conducted many experiments with electricity and magnets, leading to the discovery that a current could be produced by a change in magnetic intensity. In 1831 he published his 'laws of electromagnetic induction'. He also discovered the laws of electrolysis.

Among Michael's many achievements were constructing the first electric transformer, isolating the compound benzene and discovering diamagnetism.

From about 1855, Michael's mind began to fail. He still did occasional experiments, one of which involved attempting to find an electrical effect of raising a heavy weight, since he felt that gravity, like magnetism, must be convertible into some other force, most likely electrical. This time he was disappointed in his expectations, and the Royal Society refused to publish his negative results.

Michael was known throughout his life as a kind and humble person, unconcerned with honours and eager to practice his science to the best of his ability.

Queen Victoria rewarded his lifetime of devotion to science by granting him the use of a house at Hampton Court and even offered him the honour of a knighthood. Michael gratefully accepted the cottage but rejected the knighthood; he would, he said, remain plain Mr. Faraday to the end. He had previously turned down the presidency of the Royal Society, fearing then also that the honour would compromise his integrity.

In 1865, Michael ended his connection with the Royal Institution after over 50 years of service. He died at his house at Hampton Court on 25th August 1867 and was buried in Highgate Cemetery, London, leaving as his monument a new conception of physical reality.


Date Known

22 September 1791

Michael Faraday is born to James Faraday and Margaret Hastwell in Newington Butts, England. Sources: 1


Michael Faraday is apprenticed to George Riebau, a bookbinder and stationer at 2, Blandford Street, Marylebone, England.

31 October 1812

Michael Faraday is hired as an assistant by chemist, Humphrey Davy.

October 1813

Eminent chemist, Humphrey Davy travels to Paris, France with his assistant, Michael Faraday, to collect a medal awarded to Davy by Napoleon Bonaparte for his electro-chemical work.

December 1813

Michael Faraday travels with Humphrey Davy from Paris, France to tour Italy (and beyond).

June 1814

Humphrey Davy and Michael Faraday meet with fellow chemist Alessandro Volta in Milan, Italy.

24 July 1814

Nine months into their tour of Europe, Humphrey Davy and Michael Faraday arrive in Geneva, Europe.

30 January 1815

Michael Faraday attends a masquerade ball during Carnivale in Rome, Italy. Sources: 1

16 April 1815

Humphrey Davy and Michael Faraday pass through Brussels, Belgium (very happily) en route to England.


Sarah Barnard and Michael Faraday marry. Sources: 1


Michael Faraday publishes his Laws of Electromagnetic Induction.


London's Sandemanian congregation (including Michael Faraday) moves from Paul's Alley to Barnsbury Grove.

25 August 1867

Michael Faraday dies in Hampton Court, England.