Article ID: CBB662505737

Humphry Davy’s Early Chemical Knowledge, Theory and Experiments: An Edition of His 1798 Manuscript, “An Essay on Heat and the Combinations of Light” from The Royal Institution of Cornwall, Courtney Library, MS DVY/2 (2019)

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This paper publishes, for the first time, Humphry Davy’s June 1798 “An Essay on Heat and the Combinations of Light” written in Penzance. It is the manuscript that he sent to Thomas Beddoes which secured for him the position of Superintendent of the Medical Pneumatic Institution in Bristol while aged only nineteen. It is thus a crucial document that increases our understanding about how Davy made that move from Cornwall to Bristol, without which it is highly unlikely that he would have followed the spectacular career trajectory that he did. The “Essay” provides new insights into Davy’s very early chemical reading (especially the English translations of Antoine Fourcroy’s Elémens d’histoire naturelle et de chimie), the extent to which Davy read this (and other texts) in French, the chemical apparatus he used, the experiments he made and the development and retraction of his theory of phosoxyd (later phosoxygen).

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Authors & Contributors
Stewart, Larry R.
Levere, Trevor H.
James, Frank A.J.L.
Stock, John Edmonds
Beddoes, Thomas
Miller, David Philip
Journals
Ambix: Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry
Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science
Technology's Stories
Foundations of Chemistry
Revue d'Histoire de la Pharmacie
Chemical Heritage
Publishers
Thoemmes
Routledge
Concepts
Chemistry
Biographies
Medicine
Technology
Phlogiston
Human experimentation
People
Beddoes, Thomas
Davy, Humphry
Fourcroy, Antoine François de
Lavoisier, Antoine Laurent
Guyton de Morveau, Louis Bernard
Berthollet, Claude Louis
Time Periods
18th century
19th century
Early modern
20th century, late
Places
Great Britain
United States
France
Institutions
Bristol Pneumatic Institute
Royal Society of London
Académie Royale des Sciences (France)
Oxford University
University of Durham (United Kingdom)
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