Before culture was divided into the sciences and the arts there was a chemist who was also a poet. Sir Humphry Davy (1778-1829) is one of the best known men of science of the nineteenth century: he was the first person to inhale nitrous oxide; he isolated nine chemical elements; and he invented the miners’ safety lamp known as the Davy lamp. This course will consider Davy’s life and career using manuscript sources held at the Royal Institution of Great Britain. We will read Davy’s letters, his poetry and even recreate some of his most famous experiments!
This course is open to anyone with an interest in history, particularly the history of science and medicine, or with an interest in poetry. No prior knowledge of Humphry Davy’s life and times is required.