The Enlightened Joseph Priestley: A Study of His Life and Work from 1773 to 1804

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9780271024592: The Enlightened Joseph Priestley: A Study of His Life and Work from 1773 to 1804
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Winner of the 2006 Roy G. Neville Prize for Biography Awarded by the Chemical Heritage Foundation, inThe Enlightened Joseph Priestley Robert Schofield completes his two-volume biography of one of the great figures of the English Enlightenment. The first volume, published in 1997, covered the first forty years of Joseph Priestley's life in England. In this second volume, Schofield surveys the mature years of Priestley, including the achievements that were to make him famous the discovery of oxygen, the defenses of Unitarianism, and the political liberalism that characterized his later life. He also recounts Priestley's flight to Pennsylvania in 1794 and the final years of his life spent along the Susquehanna in Northumberland. Together, the two volumes will stand as the standard biography of Priestley for years to come.
Joseph Priestley (1733-1804), a contemporary and friend of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, exceeded even these polymaths in the breadth of his curiosity and learning. Yet Priestley is often portrayed in negative terms, as a restless intellect, incapable of confining himself to any single task, without force or originality, and marked by hasty and superficial thought. In The Enlightened Joseph Priestley, he emerges as a man who was more than a lucky empiricist in science, more than a naive political liberal, more than an exhaustive compiler of superficial evidence in militant support of Unitarianism. In fact, he was learned in an extraordinary variety of subjects, from grammar, education, aesthetics, metaphysics, politics, and theology to natural philosophy. Priestley was, in fact, a man of the Enlightenment. Praise for The Enlightenment of Joseph Priestley (1997): It is with great pleasure that one turns to this long anticipated biography of Priestley by Robert Schofield. . . . The Enlightenment of Joseph Priestley begins the daunting task of finally producing an integrated overview of Priestley the man, the scientist, the theologian, the political theorist, and the educator begins, rather than completes, because Schofield has chosen to terminate his account in 1773, the year that Priestley turned forty. The amount of information on Priestley is so vast that at least two volumes will be required to complete the task. . . . Though chemists will be disappointed that Schofield's decision to terminate his account in 1773 means that most of Priestley s most important work on pneumatic chemistry is not covered, they will still find the book of great interest and will be likely, like the reviewer, to keep their fingers crossed in anticipation that we will soon see the publication of volume two.
--William B. Jensen, Journal of Chemical Education

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From the Back Cover:

Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) is one of the major figures of the English Enlightenment. A contemporary and friend of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, he exceeded even these polymaths in the breadth of his curiosity and learning. Yet no one has attempted an all-inclusive biography of Priestley, probably because he was simply too many persons for anyone easily to comprehend in a single study. Robert Schofield has devoted a lifetime of scholarship to this task. The result is a magisterial book, covering the life and works of Priestley during the critical first forty years of his life. Although Priestley is best known as a chemist, this book is considerably more than a study in the history of science. As any good biographer must, Schofield has thoroughly studied the many activities in which Priestley was engaged. Among them are theology, electricity, chemistry, politics, English grammar, rhetoric, and educational philosophy. Schofield situates Priestley, the provincial dissenter, within the social, political, and intellectual contexts of his day and examines all the works Priestley wrote and published during this period. Schofield singles out the first forty years of Priestley's life because these were the years of preparation and trial during which Priestley qualified for the achievements that were to make him famous. The discovery of oxygen, the defenses of Unitarianism, and the political liberalism that characterize the mature Priestley - all are foreshadowed in the young Priestley. A brief epilogue looks ahead to the next thirty years when Priestley was forced out of England and settled in Pennsylvania, the subject of Schofield's next book. But this volume stands alone as thedefinitive study of the making of Joseph Priestley.

About the Author:

Robert E. Schofield is Professor of History Emeritus at Iowa State University, where he was also Director of the Program in History of Technology and Science. The first volume of his Priestley biography, The Enlightenment of Joseph Priestley, was published by Penn State Press in 1997. He is also the editor of A Scientific Autobiography of Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) (1966).

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9780271036250: The Enlightened Joseph Priestley: A Study of His Life and Work from 1773 to 1804

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ISBN 10:  0271036257 ISBN 13:  9780271036250
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