The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes

This book (2008) has wonder in the title and is wonderful to read. Richard Holmes ( is a biographer to trade and married to novelist Rose Tremain. This was his first major work of biography in over a decade.

Holmes immerses us into the world where the Romantic spirit was being thrilled by the discoveries of science and exploration. His topics are botanist Joseph Banks who enjoyed ‘anthropological’ studies with the inhabitants of Tahiti alongside James Cook, William Hershel maker of telescopes and discoverer of Uranus, Humhrey Davy of the lamp, Mungo Park in Africa, and considerations around the soul and Frankenstein. All through he ably demonstrates the inter-connectedness of the poetic spirit of the age with the triumphs of discovery. Packed with technical detail, close observation and backed by a depth of research it is hard to believe any person could have found the time for, this is a gift of a read. I hope it will leave you full of wonder.

Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize and winner of the Royal Society Prize for Science Books.

Enquire at your local library or available at

380 pages in Harper Press paperback edition.

ISBN 978-0007149537

Richard Holmes

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