An extraordinary yet little-known scientific advance occurred in the opening years of the nineteenth century when a young amateur meteorologist, Luke Howard, gave the clouds the names by which they are known to this day. By creating a language to define structures that had, up to then, been considered random and unknowable, Howard revolutionized the science of meteorology and earned the admiration of his leading contemporaries in art, literature and science.
Richard Hamblyn charts Howard's life from obscurity to international fame, and back to obscurity once more. He recreates the period's intoxicating atmosphere of scientific discovery, and shows how this provided inspiration for figures such as Goethe, Shelley and Constable. Offering rich insights into the nature of celebrity, the close relationship between the sciences and the arts, and the excitement generated by new ideas, The Invention of Clouds is an enthralling work of social and scientific history.
Richard Hamblyn was born in 1965 and is a graduate of the universities of Essex and of Cambridge, where he wrote a doctoral dissertation on the early history of geology in Britain. The Invention of Clouds, his first book, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize; his second book, Terra: Tales of the Earth explores the human consequences of natural disasters. Hamblyn lives and works in London.