James Watt: Culture, Innovation and Enlightenment

Caroline Archer, Malcolm Dick

    Research output: Book/ReportBook


    James Watt (1736-1819) was a pivotal figure of the Industrial Revolution. His career as a scientific instrument maker, inventor and engineer developed in Scotland, his land of birth, but his national and international significance as a successful technologist businessman, scientist was formed in Birmingham, where his partnership with Matthew Boulton and the intellectual and personal support of other members of Lunar network, such as Erasmus Darwin, James Keir, William Small and Josiah Wedgwood enabled him to translate his improvements in steam technology into efficient energy machines. His pumping and rotative steam engines represent the summit of technological achievement for the early industrial revolution in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries and led to future developments in locomotive and steam ship design and mechanical engineering such as the steam hammer. This is the traditional picture of James Watt. His reputation as a hero of modernity was created after his death, not least by his son James Watt jnr. As a result other steam engine innovators were reduced in importance, the context in which he operated was underplayed and the ?great man? approach to making sense of the Industrial Revolution became an important dimension of popular historical understanding. This book aims to reassess Watt the man, his inventions and his contribution to the Enlightenment.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationLiverpool
    PublisherLiverpool University Press
    ISBN (Print)9781789620825
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 28 Jan 2020

    Publication series

    NameEighteenth Century Worlds


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