The Collected Letters of Thomas Beddoes

Poet, political campaigner and chemical experimentalist as well as medical doctor, Dr. Thomas Beddoes (1760-1808) was, in Roy Porter's words, 'a central late-Enlightenment figure', a man 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, most of all, his 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.

This project to collect and publish Beddoes' correspondence will allow a new and transformative understanding of the ways in which innovations in science, medicine, literature and politics were mutually generative. It will 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, and social reform were pursued together.

The project will publish a fully-annotated print edition of all surviving letters written by Beddoes (Cambridge University Press, 2026); it will also provide the letter-texts on this site. The link in the side bar will connect to this online source.

The edition will include letters to major literary and scientific figures of the period:

James Black S.T. Coleridge Erasmus Darwin Humphrey Davy Maria Edgeworth Thomas Malthus Joseph Priestly James Watt Thomas Wedgwood



The project is being led by Professor Tim Fulford (de Montfort University, Leicester, UK) and Dr Dahlia Porter (University of Glasgow, UK). Dr Sara Slinn is the project's research assistant.

The Collected Letters of Thomas Beddoes is being funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, part of UK Research and Innovation. The AHRC funds outstanding original research across the whole range of the arts and humanities, providing economic, social and cultural benefits to the UK, and contributing to the culture and welfare of societies around the globe.

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