Richard Holmes talks about The Age of Wonder, his non-fiction account of the Romantic age, as scientific and artistic thinking began to diverge.
In the book he describes the scientific ferment that swept through Britain in the late-18th century and tells the stories of the celebrated innovators and their great scientific discoveries: from telescopic sight and the discovery of Uranus to Humphrey Davy's invention of the miner's safety lamp, and from the first balloon flight to African exploration.
Holmes has also written biographies of the poets Coleridge and Shelley and he explains how The Romantics didn't believe in the modern idea that the arts and sciences are two cultures dividing us. The chemist Humphrey Davy wrote poetry and was good friends with Coleridge and they inhaled nitrous oxide gas together as part of Davy's experiments on its properties.
Presented by James Naughtie and including questions from an audience of readers.
Presenter : James Naughtie
Producer : Dymphna Flynn
May's Bookclub Choice : Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty (2013)