author: Richard Holmes
average rating: 4.03
book published: 2008
read at: 2009/12/09
date added: 2009/12/11
shelves: biography, history, non-fiction, science, writing
An examination of (primarily English) science from Joseph Banks to Charles Darwin — using the round-the-world voyages of each as bookends, follows the early professionalization of science as it evolved from "natural philosopher" to "scientist." The other major figures of the book are William Herschel, his sister Caroline, and Humphrey Davy. Fascinating biographies: lots of folks literary and scientific wander through. I would have liked to have seen more of the Romantic poets, although I think he’s written about them in previous books.
He makes a good case for more of an overlap of science and poetry, one that gives me a great deal of personal satisfaction. Davy actually wrote some beautiful poetry, along with messing around with nitrous oxide and inventing the safety lamp. It makes me want to simultaneously write more poetry and watch a bunch of PBS science shows. 🙂
Wonderfully evocative writing, although the pacing was a little jumpy, and it assumed more knowledge of late 18th/early 19th century British history than I’ve got. Still, definitely recommended.