Josiah Wedgwood (ePub)
A New Biography
Wedgwood was born in the Staffordshire Potteries in 1739 and lived in the area all his life. His family were all potters, working in traditional ways, but Josiah was to revolutionise the industry. When he started work, the local ware was either rather rustic, or made to look a little more sophisticated by the addition of heavy glazes. He worked to produce a lighter coloured body and to use designs made to appeal to aristocratic tastes, convinced that where they led the rapidly growing middle class would follow. The result was cream ware which, when a whole service was ordered by the royal family, was soon christened queens ware.
He needed to import new materials – flint from East Anglia, light clays from the West Country, so he became an ardent promoter of the Trent and Mersey Canal, and built a new factory and family home on its banks, naming the area Etruria In the new works, he abandoned the old systems where individual craftsmen produced whole pieces for an early form of mass production. From these works came the ceramics that are still world famous, such as the distinctive jasper ware.
He had many outside interests and was one of the earliest supporters of the anti-slavery movement. He studied science and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society for his work on high temperature thermometers. He was a loving family man and an enthusiastic correspondent, and his many letters reveal a character that was attractive, enthusiastic and always eager to learn. He died in 1795.
The story of Josiah Wedgwood is as interesting as any 18th century character in British history, and Anthony Burton's excellent new biography is one of the best historical biopics I've ever read. This is a giant of the coming industrial revolution, a fascinating man, a fascinating story...Books Monthly
A superbly presented, impressively informative, exhaustively researched and meticulously documented study, "Josiah Wedgwood: A New Biography" by Anthony Burton is a very special and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library 18th Century biography collections. Enhanced for academia with the inclusion of a two page Select Bibliography, eight pages of Notes, and a five page Bibliography.Midwest Book Review
Read the full review here