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The Correspondence of Joseph Black

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Table of Contents

Contents: Volume I: Preface; Introductory Chapters: Historical background; Joseph Black: life and work; History of the manuscripts; The nature and significance of the correspondence; Transcription of the letters; Index of letters. The Correspondence, Letters 1-399. Volume II: Letters 400-835. Appendices; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Robert G.W. Anderson is an historian of science whose career was spent largely in museums: he was Director of the British Museum from 1992 to 2002, and previously, from 1985, of the National Museums of Scotland. He has been President of the British Society for the History of Science, is currently Chairman of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry, and is Vice-Chair of the Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia. He has long been interested in eighteenth-century chemistry: an early publication of his, The Playfair Collection, dealt with how Joseph Black and other professors of chemistry conducted their teaching at the University of Edinburgh. He is now Vice-President of Clare Hall, Cambridge and an Honorary Fellow of St John's College, Oxford. Jean Jones was born in the Scottish Borders, and lived most of her life in Edinburgh. Educated at school in St Andrews, and at the University of Oxford, LSE and Edinburgh, she was a professional editor and a successful painter. Her exceptionally wide scholarly interests ranged from literature and the arts to social history and the history of science. She devised and organised three thought-provoking exhibitions in the National Museums of Scotland in 1986, 1988 and 1991 which dealt with the Scottish Enlightenment, scientific revolutions, and Adam Smith. She published widely, most importantly on the Scottish geologist James Hutton, who was a lifelong friend of Joseph Black. Jean Jones died in 2009.


'This is a solid piece of scholarship, and the edition will be a valuable, indeed an invaluable source for historians of science and technology and of the Scottish Enlightenment.' Trevor Levere, University of Toronto, Canada 'This is a magnificant edition, crammed with erudite footnotes and background essays.' Medical History 'The historical interest of the correspondence is therefore considerable but the scholarly standards of the edition are if anything even more impressive. Anderson and Jones provide a detailed account of Black's life and works as well as a forensic analysis of the letters as a whole. Each individual piece is thereafter supplied with extensive background information in footnotes, while a fine biographical register at the end of the second volume allows the reader easily to identify all of Black's known correspondents. Finally, a comprehensive bibliography and meticulous index complete the work. It is sad that Jean Jones did not live to see the fruits of her labours with Robert Anderson. But this edition of the Black correspondence, certain to be a standard reference source for historians of eighteenth-century science and for students of the Scottish Enlightenment too, will stand as a fine testament to her scholarly powers.' Journal of Irish and Scottish Studies 'The editors have transcribed and printed a total of 835 letters and documents, comprising 355 from Black himself, and 408 from his correspondents who include important contemporaries such as William Cullen, Lorenz Crell, Thomas Beddoes and James Watt... the volumes are superbly edited, printed and illustrated. Some may wonder why a complex edition like this was not put on the internet. I am glad it was not, for nothing can beat the convenience of having the notes instantly to hand, easy cross-referencing and a very accessible comprehensive index... the edition will be an essential purchase for academic libraries where its rich contents will be of the greatest interest to historians of science and medicine, economic historians and historians of eighteenth-century Scotland and Ireland, and of the Enlightenment... Robert Anderson and his publisher, Ashgate, are to be warmly congratulated for producing this major work of scholarship and important academic resource for historians of chemistry.' Royal Society of Chemistry Historical Group Newsletter '... exemplary edition ... The volumes are a wonderful way into an international network at an exciting time; ... any good library ought to buy them for their interest will be perennial.' Social History of Medicine 'Black's letters are a valuable addition to our understanding of the place of science in the broader culture and polity... a resource which will be invaluable in the continuing endeavour to understand how in practice, rather than in theory, scientific knowledge affected and was affected by the processes of industrialization of the eighteenth century.' British Journal for the History of Science 'One of the first things to emphasize about these two volumes is that they are of course very much more than the bare content of the correspondence. The letters themselves are expertly and thoroughly annotated, identifying named individuals, explaining obscure chemical, medical, technical and other terms, and clarifying underlying subjects, issues and details in the correspondence when their meanings are not readily apparent.' Notes and Records of the Royal Society 'The correspondence itself is copiously annotated. The notes included by the editors are incomparably erudite and demonstrate a grasp of their subject (and of almost any other that touches it, be it ever so slightly) that can only be described as "awesome." The annotations are as fascinating as many of the letters, and are in themselves not without wit and their own entertainment value.' Ambix '... these two imposing volumes of meticulously edited correspondence [are] especially welcome.' English Historical Review

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