|About the Book|
The fascinating story offour maverick siblings is interwovenwith a magisterial and multi-faceted account of the industrial, political, and artistic ferment of early 19th-century BritainThe richly varied lives of the Martin brothers reflected the manyMoreThe fascinating story of four maverick siblings is interwoven with a magisterial and multi-faceted account of the industrial, political, and artistic ferment of early 19th-century Britain The richly varied lives of the Martin brothers reflected the many upheavals of Britain in the age of Industrial Revolution. Low-born and largely unschooled, they were part of a new generation of artists, scientists, and inventors who witnessed the creation of the modern world. William, the eldest, was an eccentric inventor- Richard fought in the Peninsular War and at Waterloo- Jonathan, a hellfire preacher tormented by madness- while John the youngest single-handedly invented, mastered, and exhausted an entire genre of painting, the apocalyptic sublime, while playing host to the foremost writers, scientists, and thinkers of his day. This narrative centers on a generation of inventors, artists, and radical intellectuals (including the chemist Humphry Davy, the engineer George Stephenson, the social reformer Robert Owen, and the poet Shelley), and for Max Adams, the shared inspiration that binds this generation together is the cult of Prometheus, the titan of ancient Greek mythology who became a potent symbol of political and personal liberation from the mid-18th century onwards. Whether writing about Davy’s invention of the miner’s safety lamp, the scandalous private life of the Prince Regent, the death of Shelley or J.M.W. Turner’s use of color, Adams’s narrative is pacy- characterful- and rich in anecdote, quotation, and memorable character sketch. Like John Martin himself, he has created a sprawling and brightly colored canvas on an epic scale.