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John Donald
Publication Date
17 September 2015
Available for Sale
Birlinn Ltd
16pp b/w plate section

The Cradle of Chemistry

The Early Years of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh
by Robert G. W. Anderson - Find out more about the author

'A real addition to the history of the University of Edinburgh and to the history of the development of chemistry in Scotland' – Northern Scotland

'The volume in its entirety makes for excellent reading. The section on the material legacy is a welcome addition and will, I hope, stimulate further research. Together with Anderson’s introduction and Chang’s lucid afterword, Cradle of Chemistry offers a coherent and insightful account of the early years of chemistry at the University of Edinburgh' – Ruben E. Verwaal, Isis Review

From the mid eighteenth century, many medical students from across the world made their way to Edinburgh, drawn by the reputation of the faculty and the quality and nature of its teaching. Chemistry, in particular, had star performers, notably William Cullen and Joseph Black, whose innovative teaching styles excited and inspired their audiences. This book, which is based on conference papers given at the Crawford tercentenary meeting held at the Royal Society of Edinburgh in October 2013, describes the progress of chemistry at the University of Edinburgh from the appointment of the first professor, James Crawford, in 1713 to the career of Thomas Charles Hope, a century or so later. It includes the radical attempt by William Cullen to introduce ‘philosophical chemistry’ as a counterpart to Newton’s natural philosophy, and Joseph Black’s eventual acceptance of Lavoisier’s oxygen theory. This is a fascinating study of the period when Edinburgh’s chemistry literacy was higher than at any other time.

Robert G. W. Anderson FRSE FSA graduated from St John’s College, University of Oxford, and has held posts at the Royal Scottish Museum, the Science Museum, London, and the National Museums of Scotland, Edinburgh. He later became Director of the British Museum, London. He has held visiting academic posts at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University, and at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities (CRASSH) at the University of Cambridge (2002–2003). He is an Official Fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge. In 2012 he published The Correspondence of Joseph Black.