Enlightening Personalities

At the next Salon on Wednesday 17 April at 7 PM in the ‘Parlour Room’ of  The Brunswick Inn, 1 Railway Terrace, Derby,  Professor Jonathan Powers will give talk with the interesting title ‘Enlightening Personalities’

Jonathan has started writing a series of mini-biographies of Enlightenment period figures associated in some way with Derby (or Derbyshire). They are based on public lectures he’s given to mark anniversaries of births and deaths. The first two are out already – “Henry Cavendish – the man who ‘weighed’ the Earth” and “Benjamin Franklin and Darwin’s ‘Lunaticks'” but they are available only at selected outlets ! (Derby Museum and Art Gallery, Derby Cathedral, Erasmus Darwin House in Lichfield, Chatsworth, and Buxton Museum and Art Gallery.) Four more are planned which will discuss the work and ideas of Thomas Hobbes, ‘Mad Madge’ Cavendish, John Flamsteed, John Whitehurst, James Ferguson, Erasmus Darwin, and Herbert Spencer. But what is so special about ‘anniversaries’ and why choose a particular location like Derby ? Is telling the extraordinary stories of these very different personalities, who happened to have been this way at some point, a proper way to go to about the history of ideas, or is Jonathan simply contributing to the construction of a narrative for the local ‘heritage industry’ ? Should we persuade him to stop or should he go on?

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