The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science by Richard Holmes
Winner of the Royal Society Prize for Science Books.
Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize.
Richard Holmes, prize-winning biographer of Coleridge and Shelley, explores the scientific ferment that swept across Britain at the end of 18th century in this ground-breaking new biography .
'The Age of Wonder' is Richard Holmes's first major work of biography in over a decade. It has been inspired by the scientific ferment that swept through Britain at the end of the eighteenth century, which Holmes now radically redefines as 'the revolution of Romantic Science'.
The book opens with Joseph Banks stepping onto a Tahitian beach in 1796, hoping to discover Paradise. The young botanist had set sail in search of new worlds - inspired by the Romantic revolution of science that was sweeping through Britain. Banks goes on to introduce us to William Herschel, whose groundbreaking dedication to the stars forever changed the public conception of the solar system, and Humphry Davy, whose creation of the Safety Lamp went on to save thousands of lives.
These are just a few of the lives covered in this remarkable work in which Holmes charts the many voyages of discovery - astronomical, chemical, poetical, philosophical - that made up this 'age of wonder'. From telescopic sight to miner's lamp, and from the first balloon flight to African exploration, it tells the stories of great innovations, and the inspired individuals behind them.