Poetry by Numbers is a collaboration between the University of Exeter and the Alfred Gillett Trust. One of the 7 Innovation Awards funded through the AHRC Science in Culture Theme, the project centres on a one-off piece of technology from the 1830s/40s: the Eureka Latin Verse Machine. This device, built to ‘compose‘ in random sequence lines of poetry (each one arranged in Latin hexameters), was conceived and constructed by a Somerset inventor named John Clark (1785-1853).

The project aims to understand the Eureka’s operation; to conserve the device and return it to a functional state (where feasible); to produce virtual and actual replicas using up-to-date computer programming and 3-D printing in Exeter’s Centre for Additive Layer Manufacture (CALM); and to document collaborative methods and manufacturing techniques for potential application in other restoration projects.