Born January 17 Jan 1706 – Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin (1706-90) was the most glamorous scientific figure of the 18th century after Isaac Newton. Having made his fortune as a writer and publisher, he retired to explore the emerging new science of ‘electricity’. His discoveries led to the conferment of Doctorates by the University of St Andrews and Oxford University, as well as his election as the first-ever overseas Fellow of the Royal Society and the award of its prestigious Copley Medal. It was his demonstration that lightning was electrical and the invention of the lightning conductor which captured the public imagination and introduced terminology which is still in everyday use.
His first excursion in 1758 seems to have been instrumental is stimulating the formation of the ‘Lunar Circle’, which was put onto to a more organised footing in 1766, after Franklin had introduced Dr William Small from William and Mary College to Matthew Boulton in Birmingham.
You can learn more about Franklin’s journeys in England, Scotland, Ireland, and on the mainland of Europe, and how the shared interests and attitudes of a network of friends spanning the Atlantic helped to shape the modern world from “Benjamin Franklin and Darwin’s Lunaticks” by Jonathon Powers, which is available from the book shop at Erasmus Darwin House.