7. Newton could be vindictive, petty, and vicious
When Gottfried Leibniz died the controversy over the discovery of calculus did not die with him, as Newton continued to use his influence within the Royal Society to enhance his own reputation at the expense of his fellow mathematician, who could no longer offer a defense. Nor was Leibniz the only fellow scientist to feel Newton’s wrath. Robert Hooke developed a theory of gravity controlling the motion of the planets similar to Newton’s, and independently of Newton’s work, which Newton attempted to obscure after Hooke’s death when Sir Isaac assumed Hooke’s former role as head of the Royal Society in London.
Newton and Hooke also clashed over Newton’s work with optics and light, which Hooke offered criticism on, and once Newton was in a position to do so he systematically took steps to move Hooke into obscurity. When Newton took over as the head of the Royal Society Hooke’s papers vanished, including copies of correspondence between Newton and Hooke, between Hooke and architect Christopher Wren, and minutes of the Royal Society, 520 papers in all. They were not rediscovered until the twenty-first century. There was also a story, possibly apocryphal, that when the Royal Society moved to new quarters, Newton removed the only portrait of Hooke done from life, though there is no hard evidence that such a portrait ever existed.