Announcement of a New Scholarly Resource in the Histories of Science, Literature, and Medicine: Collected Letters of Thomas Beddoes

Co-editors, Dahlia Porter and Tim Fulford, are delighted to announce the creation of an open access website making available the letters of Thomas Beddoes (1760-1808)  the pioneer of pneumatic medicine, mentor of Humphry Davy, and collaborator with S. T. Coleridge, Erasmus Darwin, Maria Edgeworth, Robert Southey, Thomas Wedgwood, and James Watt.    

The website is part of an AHRC-funded project that culminates in a fully-annotated print edition of all surviving letters written by Beddoes (Cambridge University Press, 2026). Poet, political campaigner and chemical experimentalist as well as medical doctor, Beddoes was, in Roy Porter’s words, ‘a central late-Enlightenment figure’ of great influence on the development of science, medicine and literature because of his transmission of ideas in lectures, in print and in letters. By dint of his theoretical publications, experimental programme and vast correspondence network, Beddoes played a leading role in moving Enlightenment thought across generations and borders, fomenting developments in fields from therapeutic medicine to chemistry to poetry.  His letters provide striking new perspectives on how correspondence networks – both within Britain and internationally – shaped a ‘culture of enquiry’ in which investigations in literature, medicine, chemistry, philosophy, technology and social reform were pursued together.

The website presently contains an introduction and samples of letters. Over the next year, we will upload hundreds of letter-texts and several related resources, including love letters by Beddoes’s wife Anna Edgeworth.

Bookmark and enjoy browsing!


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