Age of Wonder How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science

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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.

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Amazon Exclusive: Oliver Sacks on The Age of Wonder

Oliver Sacks is the author of Musicophilia, Awakenings,The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and many other books, for which he has received numerous awards, including the Hawthornden Prize, a Polk Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and lives in New York City, where he is a practicing neurologist. Read his exclusive guest review of The Age of Wonder:

I am a Richard Holmes addict. He is an incomparable biographer, but in The Age of Wonder, he rises to new heights and becomes the biographer not of a single figure, but of an entire unique period, when artist and scientist could share common aims and ambitions and a common language--and together create a "romantic," humanist science. We are once again on the brink of such an age, when science and art will come together in new and powerful ways. For this we could have no better model than the lives of William and Caroline Herschel and Humphry Davy, whose dedication and scientific inventiveness were combined with a deep sense of wonder and poetry in the universe. Only Holmes, who is so deeply versed in the people and culture of eighteenth-century science, could tell their story with such verve and resonance for our own time.

(Photo © Elena Seibert)

About the Author:

Richard Holmes is Professor of Biographical Studies at the University of East Anglia, and editor of the Harper Perennial series Classic Biographies launched in 2004. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, has honorary doctorates from UEA and the Tavistock Institute, and was awarded an OBE in 1992. His books have won the Somerset Maugham Prize, the Whitbread Book of the Year, the James Tait Black Prize, the Duff Cooper Prize and the Heinemann Award. His most recent book, The Age of Wonder, won the Royal Society Prize for Science Books and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9781400031870: The Age of Wonder: The Romantic Generation and the Discovery of the Beauty and Terror of Science

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ISBN 10:  1400031877 ISBN 13:  9781400031870
Publisher: Vintage, 2010
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9780375422225: The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science

Pantheon, 2009
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9780007149537: The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science

Vintag..., 2009
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9780007441358: Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science

Harper..., 2011
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