Peculiar Deaths of Famous Mathematicians

We review the third of this year’s nominees for the Book of the Year


Ioanna Georgiou is a mathematics teacher from London and Asuka Young is a freelance graphic designer and illustrator. Peculiar Deaths of Famous Mathematicians (Amazon UK, Waterstones) is their second book together (their first was Mathematical Adventures!, released in 2020): it covers the lives and peculiar deaths of 10 famous mathematicians.


This book is well written and beautifully illustrated. Each section of the book covers the life, mathematical work, and death of mathematician. The ten sections of the book cover Pythagoras, Hippasus, Archimedes, Hypatia, Gerolamo Gardano, Tycho Brahe, Abraham De Moivre, Evariste Galois, André Bloch, and Kurt Gödel.


Peculiar Deaths of Famous Mathematicians is a perfect mixture of maths and history. The mathematical sections of the book are all well explained, and pitched at a level appropriate for secondary school school students or anyone older. The historical stories are engaging and interesting. The historical and mathematical parts of the book complement each other well, rather than feeling like two separate parts.


By focusing on mathematicians who have died in “peculiar” ways, this book is forced to focus on a different set of mathematicians to other books. Rather than being a downside of this book, however, this is a positive, as it means the book focuses on some less well-known stories and pieces of maths. It’s unfortunate that there is only one woman mathematician among those included in the book (but this can maybe be excused more than your average maths book as the restriction to mathematicians who have died peculiar deaths really limits the possible candidates for inclusion).


I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants to read about the historical context surrounding some famous mathematical ideas, or anyone with a joint interest in maths and history. Parts of the book are aimed at the younger reader, but there is plenty for an adult reader to enjoy too.

Fans of Ioanna and Asuka’s first book should note that this book is aimed at an older audience than Mathematical Adventures!, but it could be enjoyed by anyone from teenagers upwards.


You can vote for your favourite book on the Book of the Year shortlist below. The winning book will be crowned the Chalkdust Readers’ Choice. Voting closes at 1pm (BST) on Saturday 31 March.

What is your favourite book on the 2022 Book of the Year shortlist?

  • An Introduction to the Math of Voting Methods by Brendan W Sullivan (44%, 101 Votes)
  • Peculiar Deaths of Famous Mathematicians by Ionna Georgiou and Asuka Young (19%, 44 Votes)
  • Congruent Triangles by X and Y (15%, 35 Votes)
  • Escape from Model Land by Erica Thompson (8%, 18 Votes)
  • Math Games with Bad Drawings by Ben Orlin (7%, 16 Votes)
  • A Ring of Cats and Dogs (and Other Curious Puzzles) by Daniel Griller (7%, 15 Votes)
  • The Irrational Diary of Clara Valentine by Coralie Colmez (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Beyond Measure by James Vincent (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 230

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