The publication in 1890 of the two-volume Scientific Papers of James Clerk Maxwell, edited by W. D. Niven, was one of the two objects of a committee formed 'for the purpose of securing a fitting memorial of him' (the other object being the ...
commissioning of a marble bust for the Cavendish Laboratory). Before his death in 1879 at the age of 48, Clerk Maxwell had made major contributions to many areas of theoretical physics and mathematics, not least his discoveries in the fields of electromagnetism and of the kinetic theory of gases, which have been regarded as laying the foundations of all modern physics. He is generally considered the third most important physicist of all time, after Newton and Einstein. These collected shorter works, beginning with a paper written at the age of 15, show the wide range of Clerk Maxwell's interests across mathematics, physics and chemistry.