Book Shop and Gifts

We have a range of specialist books and pamphlets on Erasmus, his interests, his contemporaries and fellow members of the Lunar Society.  We also stock science books for children and books for herb garden enthusiasts.

Our most popular books are The Lunar Men by Jenny Uglow and Desmond King-Hele’s biography of Erasmus Darwin, A Life of Unequalled Achievement.

A list of the books available can be found below.  As space in our shop is limited, some items may not be on display, so please ask at the reception desk if you cannot find a copy of the book you require.

Anna Seward’s Life of Erasmus Darwin

RRP £14.99          Our price £7.50

In 1804, at a time of industrial, political and intellectual ferment, Anna Seward (1742-1809) published the first biography of “Erasmus Darwin” (1731-1802). Darwin was one of Britain’s foremost physicians, scientists, poets and observers of nature. Anna Seward was a leading poet, critic and commentator. Both flourished in the effervescent cultural landscape of the late-eighteenth century and made Lichfield a provincial centre for intellectual activity.


Erasmus Darwin: A Life of Unequalled AchievementErasmus Darwin: A Life of Unequalled Achievement by [King-Hele, Desmond]

Author: Desmond Hele-King

Price: £25.00

A splendid biography of Erasmus Darwin by Desmond King-Hele, who is the leading authority on Erasmus Darwin, having studied his life and work for three decades. One of our most popular books.




The Lunar Men: The Friends Who Made The Lunar Men: The Friends Who Made the Future 1730-1810the Future

Author: Jenny Uglow

Price: £14.99

The Lunar Men is a vivid group portrait that brings to life the Lunar Society of Birmingham, a group of eighteenth-century amateur experimenters led by the larger-than-life Erasmus Darwin.


Erasmus Darwin and Evolution

Author: Desmond King-Hele

Price: £8.00

A study of Erasmus Darwin’s theories concerning the evolution of all life on earth from a ‘single living filament’. His work influenced his grandson, Charles Darwin,although the grandson did not always acknowledge his debt. This book puts Erasmus Darwin’s evolutionary thinking into its historical context, drawing on his poetry and prose to demonstrate the originality of much of his work in this field.

The Darwin Farms

Author: Peter

Price: £10.00

Erasmus Darwin was a larger-than-life character and a leading member of the Lunar Society or ‘lunatics’, an eighteenth century group of entrepreneurs. His grandson Charles Darwin, best known for his epic book, The Origin of the Species, was descended from two famous scientific families; the Darwins and the Wedgwoods. But until now the history of the Darwins as owners of several farms in Lincolnshire has been little appreciated. The letters, financial accounts, photographs and maps discussed in this book reveal how the Darwin family influenced the lives of their tenant farmers, and provide new insights into the nature of rural Lincolnshire from the Elizabethan era right through to the mid-twentieth century.

The fall and rise of aspirin cover

The Rise and Fall of Asprin

Author: Peter Sheldon

Price: £12.99

The author has long been interested in how plant derived substances can prove beneficial to Medicine. Writings on papyrus from the earliest times have described the use of willow bark for soothing inflamed wounds. Major contributions by the Reverend Edward Stone of Chipping Norton, and Dr. Thomas Maclagan of Dundee are covered, along with the unique discovery by Professor John Vane and his team, of the fundamental effect of aspirin on prostaglandin synthesis. The book includes fascinating memorabilia on the early days of aspirin, kindly donated from the Bayer archive

The Life and Times of William Withering

Author: Peter Sheldon

RRP £19.95

Our price £8.00

William Withering whilst travelling from Birmingham to Stafford and stopping to change horses, was asked to see a patient suffering from the dropsy. A few weeks later, enquiring about her progress, he was told she had improved following the use of a remedy of an old woman in Shropshire. He was able to discern that of all its ingredients, the one likely to be responsible was derived from the purple foxglove. His most famous contribution to the world of medicine was to study its optimum dosage, and accurately to chart its side effects. Withering was also a mineralogist and botanist. He was a member of the Lunar Society of Birmingham. Within this book we traverse world events of the 18th century – wars and riots, the Industrial Revolution, the effects in the Midlands of the French Revolution, the events in India, and many others. We chart the lives of other physicians, famous politicians, artists, playwrights, cabinet makers and others, who collectively weave the tapestry of the time. Then we move into modern times with the advent of digoxin, the current version of digitalis. We assess its place in the medicine of today. This book is intended not only for members of the medical and allied professions, but for all who, like Withering, seek truth from the Nature that surrounds us

Elizabeth Anne Galton(1808-1906)Elizabeth Anne Galton (1808-1906): A Well-connected Gentlewoman

By Andrew Moilliett (Editor)

Elizabeth Anne Galton’s mind was as sharp and enquiring in her nineties as it was in her youth.    Grand daughter to Erasmus Darwin, she chronicled the changes in the 19th century with an observant eye.  She was a devout philanthropic woman, much influenced by her Quaker relations, but her strong principles were leavened with a great sense of fun.


Her memoirs have been edited by Andrew Moilliet, a descendant of her sister Lucy.  There are gems of all kinds on every page, including the defeat of Bonaparte, dancing bears, highwaymen, the first trains, the @science@ of phrenology, life at a Regency spa, her @season@ as a debutante, the death of George III a lavish dinner for the Duke of wellington – and the blissful arrival of elastic shoulder straps for stiffly-corseted women…


RRP £10.99

Our price £6.99



How to Create the Perfect Wife: The True Story of One Gentleman, Two Orphans and an Experiment to Create the Ideal Woman

How to Create the Perfect Wife

Author: Wendy Moore

Price: £8.99

This is the story of how Thomas Day, a young man of means, decided he could never marry a woman with brains, spirit or fortune. Instead, he adopted two orphan girls from a Foundling Hospital, and set about educating them to become the meek, docile women he considered marriage material.


The Enlightenment Series

‘I am writing these inexpennsive mini-monographs primarily to support the work of Derby Museum and Art Gallery and Erasmus Darwin House in Lichfield.

They are usually developed from talks I have given locally to commemorate anniversaries of significant figures with connections to the area.

They all contain new and original material, and are intended to stimulate interest in both the lives and the ideas of the people who are discussed’

Emeritus Professor Jonathan Powers, DL Hon DUniv FInstP FRSA, Former Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic) University of Derby.

Author: Jonathon Powers

Price £5 or 3 for £12  For a list of titles available please see the link below

The enlightenment series



Special Introductory Offer – Time Space and Time Travel, Physics, Fiction and Philosophy Trilogy – Set of 3 for £10


Wedlock: How Georgian Britain's Worst Husband Met His Match


Author: Wendy Moore

RRP £9.99

Our price £6.50

Wedlock is the remarkable story of the Countess of Strathmore and her marriage to Andrew Robinson Stoney. Mary Eleanor Bowes was one of Britain’s richest young heiresses. She married the Count of Strathmore who died young, and pregnant with her lover’s child, Mary became engaged to George Gray. Then in swooped Andrew Robinson Stoney. Mary was bowled over and married him within the week.

But nothing was as it seemed. Stoney was broke, and his pursuit of the wealthy Countess a calculated ploy. Once married to Mary, he embarked on years of ill treatment, seizing her lands, beating her, terrorising servants, introducing prostitutes to the family home, kidnapping his own sister. But finally after many years, a servant helped Mary to escape. She began a high-profile divorce case that was the scandal of the day and was successful. But then Andrew kidnapped her and undertook a week-long rampage of terror and cruelty until the law finally caught up with him.

Poems of Lichfield and Derby 

by Erasmus Darwin

Price £3

This is the third of four small books presenting Erasmus Darwin’s shorter poems, most of which have not previously been published.


Poems of School 

by Erasmus Darwin

Price £3

A collection of the early poetry written by Dr Erasmus Darwin in the mid-eighteenth century. The poems – most of them until now unpublished – are provided with short biographical and literary introductions and brief explanatory footnotes. There is a general introduction written by Dr Desmond King-Hele, FRS, and additional scholarly information concerning sources etc.

To Elizabeth with love

by Erasmus Darwin

Price £3

In 1775, when he was forty-three and a widower living at Lichfield, Erasmus was attracted by the twenty-eight-year-old Mrs Elizabeth Pole. She and her husband Colonel Edward Pole, a war hero, lived at Radburn Hall near Derby, with their three young children. For the next five years Erasmus conducted a remarkable courtship in verse, and his twenty-seven known poems to Elizabeth are printed here. Though his initial admiration grew into devotion and love, the poems never seemed likely to have any effect in the real world. But Colonel Pole died in 1780, and Erasmus married Elizabeth in 1781. According to several of their seven children, they enjoyed a happy married life until Erasmus died in 1802, aged seventy.

Advice to a Young Physician

by Sir john Floyer MD (1649-1734)

Introduced and edited by Denis Gibbs and Philip K. Wilson

Price £10

In 1664 the fifteen year old John  Floyer matriculated at The Queens College, Oxford and embarked upon the study of medicine.  Twelve years later, he settled in practice as a physician in the cathedral city of Lichfield, Staffordshire, where he lived and worked for over half a century.  He was active in local affairs and was knighted by Charles II in 1684.  Sir John was an enthusiastic investigator and author who had been strongly influenced during his formative years as a student in the exciting intellectual atmosphere of post-restoration Oxford.  he made a number of original and important contributions to medicine, several of which were of lasting significance, including observations on asthma, the application of measurement to medicine, the use of cold water bathing as a form of treatment, and the preservation of health in the elderly.

Floyer donated books and unpublished manuscripts to the Queen’s College, Oxford in 1724.  One of these manuscripts, “Advice to a Young Physician”, provides an unprecedented glimpse into the life, work and conduct of a medical student and novice physician during England’s Early Modern period.

The Science of Life and Death in Frankenstein

by Sharon Rushton

What is life? This was a question of particular concern for Mary Shelley and her contemporaries. But how did she, and her fellow Romantic writers, incorporate this debate into their work, and how much were they influenced by contemporary science, medicine and personal loss? This book is the first to compile the many attempts in science and medicine to account for life and death in Mary Shelley’s time. It considers what her contemporaries thought of air, blood, sunlight, electricity and other elements believed to be most essential for living. Mary Shelley’s (and her circle’s) knowledge of science and medicine is carefully examined, alongside the work of key scientific and medical thinkers, including John Abernethy, James Curry, Humphry Davy, John Hunter, William Lawrence and Joseph Priestley. Frankenstein demonstrates what Mary Shelley knew of the advice given by medical practitioners for the recovery of persons drowned, hanged or strangled and explores the contemporary scientific basis behind Victor Frankenstein’s idea that life and death were merely ‘ideal bounds’ he could transgress in the making of the Creature. Interweaving images of the manuscript, portraits, medical instruments and contemporary diagrams into her narrative, Sharon Ruston shows how this extraordinary tale is steeped in historical scientific and medical thought exploring the fascinating boundary between life and death.

Price: £25

Dr. James Barry – A woman ahead of her time           

     Dr James Barry: Inspector General of Hospitals, army surgeon, du

Dr James Barry: A Woman Ahead of Her Time

ellist, reformer, ladykiller, eccentric. He performed the first successful Caesarean in the British Empire, outraged the military establishment and gave Florence Nightingale a dressing down at Scutari. At home he was surrounded by a menagerie of animals, including a cat, a goat, a parrot and a terrier. Long ago in Cork, Ireland, he had also been a mother.

This is the amazing tale of Margaret Anne Bulkley, the young woman who broke the rules of Georgian society to become one of the most respected surgeons of the century. In an extraordinary life, she crossed paths with the British Empire’s great and good, royalty and rebels, soldiers and slaves. A medical pioneer, she rose to a position that no woman before her had been allowed to occupy, but for all her successes, her long, audacious deception also left her isolated, even costing her the chance to be with the man she loved.

Price £11.99

Erasmus Darwin: Sex, Science, and Serendipity by [Patricia Fara]

Erasmus Darwin – Sex, Science and Serendipity

Dr Erasmus Darwin seemed an innocuous Midlands physician, a respectable stalwart of eighteenth-century society. But there was another side to him.

Botanist, physician, Lunar inventor and popular poet, Darwin was internationally renowned for extraordinary poems explaining his theories about sex and science. Yet he became a target for the political classes, the victim of a sustained and vitriolic character assassination by London’s most savage satirists.

Intrigued, prize-winning historian Patricia Fara set out to investigate why Darwin had provoked such fierce intellectual and political reaction. Inviting her readers to accompany her, she embarked on what turned out to be a circuitous and serendipitous journey.

Her research led her to discover a man who possessed, according to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ‘perhaps a greater range of knowledge than any other man in Europe.’ His evolutionary ideas influenced his grandson Charles, were banned by the Vatican, and scandalized his reactionary critics. But for modern readers he shines out as an impassioned Enlightenment reformer who championed the abolition of slavery, the education of women, and the optimistic ideals of the French Revolution.

As she tracks down her quarry, Patricia Fara uncovers a ferment of dangerous ideas that terrified the establishment, inspired the Romantics, and laid the ground for Victorian battles between faith and science.

Price £12.99

Erasmus Darwin’s Gardens

Famous as the author of the Botanic Garden (1791) and grandfather of Charles Darwin (1809\-1882), Erasmus Darwin (1731\-1802) was a larger\-than\-life enlightenment natural philosopher (scientist) and writer who practised as a doctor across the English Midlands for nearly half a century. A practical gardener and horticulturist, Darwin created a botanic garden near Lichfield \- which galvanised his poetry \- and kept other gardens, an orchard and small \x26#34;farm\x26#34; in Derby. Informed by his medical practice and botanical studies, Darwin saw many parallels between animals, plants and humans which aroused hostility during the years of revolution, warfare and reaction, but helped him to write Zoonomia (1794\/96) and Phytologia (1800) \- his major studies of medicine, agriculture and gardening. Captivated by the changing landscapes and environments of town and country and supported by social networks such as those in Lichfield and Derby, Darwin avidly exchanged ideas about plants, animals and their diseases with family, patients, friends such as the poet Anna Seward (1742\-1809), farmers, fellow doctors, huntsmen and even the local mole catcher. The is the first full study of Erasmus Darwin\x27s gardening, horticulture and agriculture. It shows him as keen a nature enthusiast as his contemporary Rev. Gilbert White of Selbourne (1720\-1793) or his grandson Charles, fascinated with everything from swarming insects and warring bees to domestic birds and dogs, pigs and livestock on his farm to fungi growing from horse dung in Derby tan yards. Ranging over his observations of plant physiology and anatomy to the use of plant \x26#34;bandages\x26#34; in his orchard and electrical machines to hasten seed germination to explosive studies of vegetable \x26#34;brains\x26#34;, nerves and sensations, the book demonstrates the ways in which Erasmus Darwin\x27s landscape and garden experiences transformed his understanding of nature. They provided him with insights into medicine and the environmental causes of diseases, the classification of plants and animals, chemistry, evolution, potential new medicines and foodstuffs and the ecological interdependency of the natural economy. Like the amorous vegetables of the Loves of the Plants (1789) which fascinated, scandalised and titillated late Georgian society, the many living creatures of Darwin\x27s gardens and farm encountered in this book were for him real, dynamic, interacting and evolving beings who helped inspire and re\-affirm his progressive social and political outlook.

RRP £43.43

Our price £39.99

Matthew Boulton and the Soho Mint                               

Matthew Boulton (1728-1809) was a globally important industrialist who introduced innovative minting practices at this Soho Mint. This book describes the processes involved, from mining the copper to the delivery of products to the customer. There was a shortage of small change towards the end of the 18th century, and Boulton strove to solve this problem, eventually obtaining customers all over Britain, including the British Government. He also made coins for the East India Company, and for Europe, Africa, the West Indies and America. Included is Boulton’s role in the copper industry, and how he obtained his raw materials; his expertise in steel making for dies, and the technology of his new steam-powered mint. The design, production, marketing and distribution of the finished product is also covered. The book is illustrated with over 200 colour images, including an extensive section on the coins, tokens and medals produced at the Soho Mint.

Price £15.99

Doctor of Love by Lydia syson

Widely accepted as the world s first sex therapist, Dr James Graham set out to bring the sublime into the sex life of every married couple. He guaranteed both ecstasy and fertility to the users of his infamous Celestial Bed, a contraption which harnessed all the most exciting developments of the Enlightenment. Electricity, magnetism, mind-altering gases and music all played a part in this astonishing invention, luxuriously designed to impart exquisite pleasure and produce perfect babies. Graham’s medical career took him from his native Edinburgh to America and back again, and he crossed paths with many of the most famous individuals of his day. The doctor’s well-publicized efforts to overturn medical orthodoxy provoked both admiration and ridicule. He was crowned the King of Quacks. ‘Doctor of Love’ is the first comprehensive biography of James Graham.

RRP £29.67

Our price £12.00

Dinner with Joseph Johnson by Daisy Hay              

Once a week, in late eighteenth-century London, writers of contrasting politics and personalities gathered around a dining table. The host was Joseph Johnson, publisher and bookseller: a man at the heart of literary life. He was joined at dinner by a shifting constellation of extraordinary people who remade the literary world, including the Swiss artist Henry Fuseli, his chief engraver William Blake and scientists Joseph Priestley and Benjamin Franklin. William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge were among the attendees, as were the poet Anna Barbauld, the novelist Maria Edgeworth and the philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft.

Johnson’s years as a maker of books saw profound political, social, cultural and religious shifts in Britain and abroad. Several of his authors were involved in the struggles for reform; they pioneered revolutions in medical treatment, proclaimed the rights of women and children and charted the evolution of Britain’s relationship with America and Europe.

Johnson made their voices heard even when external forces conspired to silence them. In this remarkable portrait of a revolutionary age, Daisy Hay captures a changing nation through the stories of the men and women who wrote it into being, and whose ideas still influence us today.

Price £22.00



All books can be purchased from our shop or by contacting the Office on 01543 306260 or – please note we charge postage and packaging.