The Derby Philosophers focuses upon the activities of a group of Midland intellectuals that included the evolutionist and physician Erasmus Darwin, Rev. Thomas Gisborne the evangelical philosopher and poet, Robert Bage the novelist, Charles Sylvester the chemist and engineer, William George and his son Herbert Spencer, the internationally renowned evolutionist philosopher who coined the phrase 'survival of the fittest', and members of the Wedgwood and Strutt families.
The book explores how, inspired by science and through educational activities, publications and institutions including the famous Derbyshire General Infirmary (1810) and Derby Arboretum (1840), the Derby philosophers strove to promote social, political and urban improvements with national and international consequences. Much more than a parochial history of one intellectual group or town, this book examines science, politics and culture during one of the most turbulent periods of British history, an age of political and industrial revolutions in which the Derby philosophers were closely involved. -- .
Dr Paul Elliott is Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Derby