Humphry Davy: science and social mobility
by
Knight DM.
Dept of Philosophy,
University of Durham, UK.
D.M.Knight@durham.ac.uk.
Endeavour. 2000;24(4):165-9


ABSTRACT

Humphry Davy (1778-1829) was one of the first professional scientists, earning his living and rising spectacularly from an impoverished upbringing in Cornwall to be President of the Royal Society and a baronet. He owed his rise to patronage as well as to his range of abilities: as a lecturer, as a chemical theorist and as a very early applied scientist. But his exalted position brought him little happiness, for he could not satisfy all the hopes put upon him as the successor to Sir Joseph Banks. Admired rather than loved, he became unpopular and was seen as haughty. In his last two years, spent wandering lonely and sickly in Italy and the Alps, he sought to make sense of his life, writing dialogues as his bequest to the new generation.
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