Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize and winner of the Royal Society Prize for Science Books, Richard Holmes’s dazzling portrait of the age of great scientific discovery is a groundbreaking achievement.
The book opens with Joseph Banks, botanist on Captain Cook’s first Endeavour voyage, who stepped onto a Tahitian beach in 1769 fully expecting to have located Paradise. Back in Britain, the same Romantic revolution that had inspired Banks was spurring other great thinkers on to their own voyages of artistic and scientific discovery astronomical, chemical, poetical, philosophical that together made up the age of wonder’. .
In this breathtaking group biography, Richard Holmes tells the stories of the period’s celebrated innovators and their great scientific discoveries: from telescopic sight to the miner’s lamp, and from the first balloon flight to African exploration. .
‘Rich and sparkling, this is a wonderful book.’ Claire Tomalin, Guardian, Books of the Year .
‘Exuberant…Holmes suffuses his book with the joy, hope and wonder of the revolutionary era. Reading it is like a holiday in a sunny landscape, full of fascinating bypaths that lead to unexpected vistas…it succeeds inspiringly.’ John Carey, Sunday Times .
‘Thrilling: a portrait of bold adventure among the stars, across the oceans, deep into matter, poetry and the human psyche.’ Peter Forbes, Independent .
‘A glorious blend of the scientific and the literary that deserves to carry off armfuls of awards and confirms Holmes's reputation as one on the stellar biographers of the age.’ Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Telegraph, Books of the Year .
‘No question – the non-fiction book of the year is Richard Holmes's “The Age of Wonder”, not only beautifully written, but also kicking open a new perspective on the Romantic age.’ Andrew Marr, Observer, Books of the Year .
‘Itself a wonder – a masterpiece of skilful and imaginative storytelling.’ Michael Holroyd, Guardian, Books of the Year .
‘Dazzling and approachable. It's a brilliantly written account…original in its connections and very generous in its attention.’ Andrew Motion, Guardian, Books of the Year .
‘Witty, intellectually dazzling and wholly gripping.’ Richard Mabey, Guardian, Books of the Year .
‘So immediate and so beguiling is Holmes's prose that we are with him all the way.’ Sunday Telegraph .
‘Brimming with anecdote, Holmes's enthusiastic narrative amply conveys the period's spirited, often reckless pursuit of discovery with an astute balance of technical detail and the wider cultural picture.’ Financial Times