The Invention of Clouds by Richard Hamblyn
How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies

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An extraordinary yet little-known scientific advance occurred in the opening years of the nineteenth century when a young amateur meteorologist, Luke Howard, gave the clouds the names by which they are known to this day. By creating a language to define structures that had, up to then, been considered random and unknowable, Howard revolutionized the science of meteorology and earned the admiration of his leading contemporaries in art, literature and science.

Richard Hamblyn charts Howard’s life from obscurity to international fame, and back to obscurity once more. He recreates the period’s intoxicating atmosphere of scientific discovery, and shows how this provided inspiration for figures such as Goethe, Shelley and Constable. Offering rich insights into the nature of celebrity, the close relationship between the sciences and the arts, and the excitement generated by new ideas, The Invention of Clouds is an enthralling work of social and scientific history.


About Richard Hamblyn

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Richard Hamblyn was born in 1965 and is a graduate of the universities of Essex and of Cambridge, where he wrote a doctoral dissertation on the early history of geology in Britain. The Invention of Clouds, his first book, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize; his second book, Terra: Tales of the Earth explores the human consequences of natural disasters. Hamblyn lives and works in London.
Published February 28, 2011 by Picador. 304 pages
Genres: History, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math, Biographies & Memoirs, Travel. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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When Luke Howard named the clouds 200 years ago, it was an exciting, popular event.

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Publishers Weekly

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As a young student in 1783, Luke Howard, a young Quaker Englishman, had watched ominous clouds from his classroom window that were the result of recent volcanic eruptions that not only altered the appearance of the skies, but temporarily changed the climate around the world.

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Entertainment Weekly

Calling all Weather Channel addicts -- check out this endearing report on Luke Howard, gentle British Quaker and amateur meteorologist, who in 1802 explained what clouds are really made of (dust and water), analyzed the few basic recurring shapes, and named them, with definitive Latinate ele...

Aug 03 2001 | Read Full Review of The Invention of Clouds: How ...

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