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How an amateur meteorologist forged the language of the skies The Invention of Clouds takes as its focus an extraordinary scientific advance of the early nineteenth century, but also addresses other vital issues of the day, such as religion, aesthetics and literature. It tells the story of a shy young Quaker, Luke Howard, and his pioneering work to define what had hitherto seemed random and mysterious structures - clouds. Howard was catapulted to fame in December 1802 when he named the various types of clouds, a defining moment in natural history and meteorology. His poetic names - such as cirrus, stratus and cumulus - and his groundbreaking work brought him international celebrity, and he became a cult figure for Romantics like Shelley and Goethe. His scheme remains at the heart of modern meteorology, but Howard himself has long been overlooked. In this book Hamblyn restores him, his cultural context and the science he loved, to life.
Richard Hamblyn was born in 1965 and is a graduate of the universities of Essex and of Cambridge, where he wrote a doctoral dissertation on the early history of geology in Britain. The Invention of Clouds, his first book, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize; his second book, Terra: Tales of the Earth explores the human consequences of natural disasters. Hamblyn lives and works in London.
Short-listed for Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2002.