Joseph Priestley House

Northumberland, Pennsylvania

Selected References

Compiled by Derek A. Davenport
Department of Chemistry
Purdue University

  • Autobiography of Joseph Priestley, edited and with a long introduction by Jack Lindsay, Adams and Dart, Bath, England (1970). This is probably the best available source of Priestley’s short, informative, but largely unrevealing autobiography.
  • The Enlightenment of Joseph Priestley: A Study of His Life and Work from 1733-1773, Robert E. Schofield, The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, PA (1997). This is the first volume of what is clearly to be the definitive biography by the ranking Priestley scholar, Robert Schofield. Indispensable.
  • The Enlightened Joseph Priestley: A Study of His Life and Work from 1773-1804, Schofield. Robert E. (2004). Penn State Press: University Park, PA. This is the second volume of the definitive biography by the ranking Priestley scholar, Robert Schofield.
  • A Scientific Autobiography of Joseph Priestley (1733-1804), Robert E. Schofield, The M.I.T. Press, Cambridge, MA (1966). This selection of those of Priestley’s surviving letters that have significant scientific content (with extensive commentary by Schofield) provides by far the best introduction for the scientific reader.
  • The Lunar Society of Birmingham, Robert E. Schofield, Oxford University Press (1963). Priestley is only one of the stellar list of characters who were associated with The Lunar Society, the intellectual heart of the early Industrial Revolution.
  • Motion Towards Perfection: The Achievement of Joseph Priestley, ed. A. Truman Schwartz and John G. McEvoy, Skinner House Books, Boston, MA (1990). A very wide-ranging and readable collection of essays largely drawn from commemorative symposia held in Washington and London in 1983. Particularly noteworthy is John Hedley Brooke’s essay “A Sower Went Forth.”
  • Joseph Priestley: A Comet in the System, John Ruskin Clark, The Friends of Joseph Priestley House, Inc., Northumberland, PA (1994). Clark is a Unitarian minister who has spent much of his life reading the voluminous works of Joseph Priestley. The book is enlivened by numerous quotations, a number of which I have appropriated. Since Clark cites references from the virtually inaccessible 26 volumes of Priestley’s non-scientific works issues in 1817-1832, I simply cite “JRC” plus the page number.
  • Joseph Priestley: Adventurer in Science and Champion of Truth, F.W. Gibbs, Nelson, London (1965). A useful general introduction with emphasis on Priestley’s scientific contributions.