Lot 19: Robert Willis (1800-1875) English academic
October 29, 2016
Wells, ME, USA
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Description: [INVENTOR] The Reverend Robert Willis (1800-1875) English academic. He was the first Cambridge professor to win widespread recognition as a mechanical engineer, and first set the scientific study of vowels on a respectable foundation, but now best remembered for his extensive architectural writings, including a 4-volume treatise on the architecture of the University of Cambridge. Willis's theory of vowel production assumed a close correspondence between vowel production and the production of musical notes using an organ: the lung acted as a bellows, the vocal folds acted as the reed, and the mouth cavity acted as the organ pipe. Different vowels corresponded to mouth cavities(/organ pipes) of different lengths, which were independent of the properties or vibrations of the vocal folds(/reed). Willis's 1830 paper On vowel sounds, and on reed-organ pipes is usually given as the reference for this theory, and is often contrasted with Wheatstone's "harmonic" theory of vowel production.Russell devotes two chapters to the discussion of these two theories in his 1928 book on The Vowel , and Willis and Wheatstone figure prominently in the discussion of vowel theories given by Chiba and Kajiyama in their 1941 book of the same name. ALS, Cambridge, 1851, 2pp. He returns something which he fears he has kept too long / have looked on them carefully and made necessary alterations / return proofs of my plates which are very well executed, etc. VG. EXCESSIVELY RARE!.
Condition Report: VG