The Radical Potter
The Life and Times of Josiah Wedgwood
Author: Tristram Hunt
From one of Britain’s leading historians and the director of the Victoria & Albert Museum, a scintillating biography of Josiah Wedgwood, the celebrated eighteenth-century potter, entrepreneur, and abolitionist
Wedgwood pottery, such as the celebrated blue of Jasperware, is famous worldwide. Jane Austen bought it, and wrote of it in her novels; Empress Catherine II of Russia ordered hundreds of pieces for her palace; British diplomats hauled it with them on their first-ever mission to Peking, audaciously planning to impress China with their china. But the life of Josiah Wedgwood is far richer than just his accomplishments in ceramics. He was a leader of the Industrial Revolution, a pioneering businessman, a tireless scientific experimenter, a cultural tastemaker, and an ardent abolitionist. And he did it all in the face of chronic disability and relentless pain: a childhood bout with smallpox eventually led to the amputation of his right leg.
As acclaimed historian Tristram Hunt puts it in this lively, vivid biography, Wedgwood was the Steve Jobs of the eighteenth century: a difficult, brilliant, creative entrepreneur whose personal drive and extraordinary gifts changed the way we work and live. Drawing on a rich array of letters, journals, and historical documents, The Radical Potter brings us the story of a singular man, his dazzling contributions to design and innovation, and his remarkable global impact.
In The News
“This is a remarkable and impassioned book. Josiah Wedgwood innovated across boundaries of technology and art and taste, commerce and scientific enquiry, and Tristram Hunt makes the powerful case for rediscovering his humane entrepreneurial spirit. The Radical Potter brings Wedgwood’s protean energy alive for a new generation and I loved it.”
—Edmund de Waal, author of The Hare with Amber Eyes
“Hunt’s sympathetic, engaged and finely written biography makes it clear that Wedgwood was a one-off, and a genius.”
—The Spectator (UK)
“Brisk and highly readable... A fine new biography.”
—The Times (UK)
“Engrossing... Hunt is uniquely fitted to write this book.”
—The Sunday Times (UK)
“A captivating portrait of a remarkably innovative man.”