London Lights: The Minds that Moved the City that Shook the World 1805-51
'well-written, intelligent and entertainingly instructive'
‘What a wonderful book … Read it and enjoy’
‘This book … perfectly encapsulates one of the most industrious
and creative periods in the city’s history … It is effectively
the biography of half a century and … a vivid account of why
not only London but Britain as a whole was once top dog.’
‘This hugely entertaining book … The author
writes with a passion for his subject that is contagious. We are in
awe of the research he must have done and the way he brings it to life.’
‘London Lights is rich in detail, a proverbial plum pudding
of a book … The vitality of the time is caught brilliantly.’
‘Packed with memorable figures ranging from the bustling Faraday
to the grouchy Turner, Hamilton's account of London's transformation … is
an exceptional example of literary time travel.’
‘A fascinating patchwork of lives lived in the pursuit of great
‘James Hamilton eavesdrops on conversations and darts between
key places to conjure up a swirl of creative tumult … [and] finds
eccentric characters and telling detail that can only be described as
Teeming with characters, incident and ideas, this vibrant narrative offers a fresh and original perspective on artistic and scientific London in the Regency and early Victorian periods.
Paperback now available, £10.99
Turner - A Life
Hodder and Stoughton, 1997
J. M. W. Turner, the greatest painter of landscape the world has ever known, exhibited his work proudly but was correspondingly reticent about his private life. In 1799, aged 24, he became an Associate of the Royal Academy at the youngest possible age, and, with a high awareness of his own worth and entrepreneurial cunning, demanded and achieved the highest prices. While influential collectors competed to buy his paintings, Turner travelled widely in Britain and Europe, observing the landscape and the people, and collecting material for a cycle of images that would be engraved, circulated widely and come to express the collective identity of Britain.
In this lucid blend of vibrant biography and acute art history, James Hamilton introduces Turner to a new generation of readers. Hamilton scotches many Turner myths – his ‘meanness’, his ‘reclusiveness’ – and paints a picture of a uniquely generous human being, a giant of the nineteenth-century and a beacon for the twenty-first.
Faraday – The Life
HarperCollins, 2002; US, Random House, 2004
Michael Faraday is one of the giants of the history of science. A self-made, self-educated man, his public life was underpinned by his devout membership of a small Christian sect, whose rigid attitudes shadowed him at every turn, culminating in a crisis that tested his resolve as a scientist, his faith as a Christian and even the balance of his mind. Yet he became the greatest scientist of his day, and the central figure of an extraordinary scientific renaissance in London. At the age of 21 Faraday secured a position as laboratory assistant to Sir Humphry Davy at the Royal Institution. He rapidly overtook Davy as Britain’s most celebrated scientist, and his work at the Institution as a gifted experimenter and inspiring lecturer gave unprecedented impetus to public understanding of science over the course of nearly half a century.
Faraday – The Life captures the excitement of the explosive mixture of scientific and other cultural activity in London during the first half of the nineteenth century, and radically reshapes our perceptions not only of Michael Faraday, but of the interaction of arts, sciences and education at the dawn of the modern age.
VolcanoVOLCANO – Nature and Culture, by James Hamilton has been published by Reaktion Books in their 'Earth' series. The book grew out of the exhibition Volcano – from Turner to Warhol, curated by Hamilton at Compton Verney, Warwickshire in 2010.
“An arresting collage of mythology, philosophy, literature and spectacular works of visual art inspired by nature's most exuberant phenomenon – Hamilton's unique and imaginative miscellany and cultural geography of volcanoes and volcanology is a veritable treasure trove.”
“James Hamilton elegantly conjures up the imagery and impact of volcanic events around the world, through centuries and across continents, mastering this complex topic with an observant eye, an incisive mind and a fluent pen; it’s a book to read and then keep coming back to, again and again.”
“A fascinating read, the text covers all types of volcanoes across the world, and relates them to the paintings, wood engravings and a fresco from Pompeii. The linking of history, mythology and geological fact is flawless, providing fascinating insights into different cultures, the progress of Christianity and also the technique of painting.”
James Hamilton's other books include:
Seven Lives of John Murray: The Story of a Publishing Dynasty
Arthur Rackham: A Life with Illustration
William Heath Robinson
Wood Engraving and the Woodcut in Britain c1890-1990
The Sculpture of Austin Wright
Hughie O’Donoghue – Painting, Memory,
Louis le Brocquy – Homage to his Masters
The Paintings of Ben McLaughlin
György Gordon: Portraits and Figurative Work
|© James Hamilton|