James Watt, Chemist

Understanding the Origins of the Steam Age

A tremendous piece of scholarship . . . should be read not just by by students of Watt but also by scholars concerned with chemistry, engineering, commemoration and reputation building from the mid-eighteenth century.
British Journal for the History of Science

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In the Victorian era, James Watt became an iconic engineer, but in his own time he was also an influential chemist. Miller examines Watt’s illustrious engineering career in light of his parallel interest in chemistry, arguing that Watt’s conception of steam engineering relied upon chemical understandings.

Part I of the book—Representations—examines the way James Watt has been portrayed over time, emphasizing sculptural, pictorial and textual representations from the nineteenth century. As an important contributor to the development of arguably the most important technology of industrialization, Watt became a symbol that many groups of thinkers were anxious to claim. Part II—Realities—focuses on reconstructing the unsung “chemical Watt” instead of the lionized engineer.

256 Pages, 6 x 9 in.

February, 2018

isbn : 9780822965305

about the author

David Philip Miller

David Philip Miller is emeritus professor of history of science at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. He is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities and a member of the International Academy of the History of Science.

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David Philip Miller