The Age of Wonder

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Age of Wonder
The Age of Wonder (book cover).jpg
Hardcover edition
AuthorRichard Holmes
CountryUnited States
SubjectHistory of Science
Publication date
Media typePrint, e-book
Pages554 pp

The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science is a 2008 popular biography book about the history of science written by Richard Holmes. In it, the author describes the scientific discoveries of the polymaths of the late eighteenth century, and describes how this period formed the basis for modern scientific discoveries.[1] It won the 2009 Royal Society Prize for Science Books,[2] the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction, and the 2010 National Academies Communication Award.


Holmes focuses particularly on the lives and works of Sir Joseph Banks, the astronomers William and Caroline Herschel, and chemist Humphry Davy. Other profiles include African explorer Mungo Park. There is a chapter on the early history of ballooning including pioneers Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier, Vincent Lunardi, Jean-Pierre Blanchard and James Sadler.

He also describes the relationships between the scientists of that time, and the early days of the Royal Society.[3]

The book was published by HarperCollins in 2008 in the UK, and by Pantheon in the US in 2009.[4]


The book received very good reviews, and made several Best Books of 2009 lists, including the New York Times' Ten Best list.[5] Mike Jay of the Daily Telegraph wrote: "Scientists, like poets, need a sense of wonder, a sense of humility and a sense of humour. Holmes has all three in abundance".[6] Peter Forbes of The Independent wrote of the book:

"Its heart – the linked stories of Banks, Herschel and Davy – is thrilling: a portrait of bold adventure among the stars, across the oceans, deep into matter, poetry and the human psyche"[7]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]