Dolan, Brian

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Dolan, Brian

PERSONAL: Male. Education: University of Florida, B.A. (magna cum laude), 1992; Cambridge University, Ph.D., 1995.

ADDRESSES: OfficeUniversity of California, San Francisco, Department of Anthropology, History, and Social Medicine, 3333 California St., Ste. 485, San Francisco, CA 94143-0850. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Umea University, Umea, Sweden, assistant professor, 1995–96; Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, Wellcome fellow, 1996–97; University of East Anglia, Norwich, England, assistant professor, 1997–2001; University of London, London, England, assistant professor, 2001–02; University of California at San Francisco, associate professor of anthropology, history, and social medicine. Member of advisory committee, University of California Humanities Research Institute.

MEMBER: History of Science Society (chair of committee on education).


Science Unbound: Geography, Space, and Discipline, Umea (Umea, Sweden), 1998.

(Editor) Malthus, Medicine, and Morality: Malthusianism after 1798, Rodopi (Atlanta, GA), 2000.

Exploring European Frontiers: British Travellers in the Age of Enlightenment, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2000.

Ladies of the Grand Tour: British Women in Pursuit of Enlightenment and Adventure in Eighteenth-Century Europe, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

Literature and Science: Chemistry, 1650–1850, Pickering & Chatto (London, England), 2004.

Wedgwood: The First Tycoon, Viking (New York, NY), 2004, published as Josiah Wedgwood: Entrepreneur to the Enlightenment, HarperCollins (London, England), 2004.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Conducting research for a book on the history of medical perceptions of the lungs.

SIDELIGHTS: Brian Dolan is an historian with research and publishing interests that encompass European cultural and scientific history during the Enlightenment, the history of environmental and occupational health, and the development and impact of medical imaging technologies. He has written books of interest to academic and general audiences, including the widely acclaimed biography Wedgwood: The First Tycoon.

Dolan examines the influence of travel narratives in Exploring European Frontiers: British Travellers in the Age of Enlightenment. The book is focused on Edward Clarke's Travels in Various Countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa, which was published during the years 1810 to 1822. In the role of tutor, Clarke traveled through Scandinavia, Russia, the Holy Lands, North Africa, and Greece during an unusually extensive Grand Tour. His experiences, which included the study of politics, natural science, and archaeology, reflected the British interest in examining the "civilizing process" across Europe and the eastern Mediterranean region.

Reviewers described the book as an informative, perhaps dense contribution to the literature on this historical period. Writing in The English Historical Review, Bruce Redford commented, "By adhering so closely to Clarke's itinerary, Dolan makes it difficult to sustain a strong, independent argument." According to Canadian Journal of History critic Rob Iliffe, the book is "a useful addition to the growing number of texts devoted to the multifarious ways in which Europeans classified others and thus came to redefine themselves, in and after the process of 'Enlightenment.'"

In the course of writing Exploring European Frontiers, Dolan amassed a surprisingly large research file on the bold females who transgressed the customary restrictions on British women to take a grand tour of the European continent. The research resulted in Ladies of the Grand Tour: British Women in Pursuit of Enlightenment and Adventure in Eighteenth-Century Europe. Letters, journals, and diaries show how these travelers enjoyed new personal and intellectual freedom. Famous figures, such as Mary Wollstonecraft, and celebrity gossip are featured, as well as more practical issues, such as advice on what to pack.

Ladies of the Grand Tour interested reviewers, some of whom wished for a different style of presentation. The book is "less engaging than one would expect," wrote a Kirkus Reviews writer who saw "potentially compelling subject matter." As Spectator critic Jane Gardam wrote, "There is such marvellous, shackle-breaking drama that it is a shame Dolan cannot convey it," while in a review for M2 Best Books, Darren Ingram called the work "a fascinating and well-researched read that requires a little more patience than the average book." Booklist reviewer Mary Carroll described it as "thoroughly researched and gracefully written," and a Contemporary Review writer marked Ladies of the Grand Tour as "a valuable contribution to the growing number of books about British travellers."

Dolan examines the innovations of British pottery maker Josiah Wedgwood (1730–1795) in the biography Wedgwood: The First Tycoon. Born into a family of pottery makers and with resources increased by marriage to a wealthy cousin, he improved how the ceramic wares were made, created better working conditions for his employees, and established the concept that the Wedgwood brand represented "elite taste without social prejudice." His work established Wedgwood as one of the world's finest and most famous potteries; among its products is the blue jasper ware that has been popular for 225 years. While Dolan reveals the ambition that fed Wegwood's efforts, he also shows the philosophical and emotional challenges the man faced. As a rationalist free-thinker and Unitarian, he refused to decorate his china with crests. Threats to the health of his family were also a frequent concern.

The biography was widely reviewed and praised, a Contemporary Review contributor calling it "a well balanced account of a remarkable man." In Publishers Weekly, a critic noted that the book provides "a magnificent glimpse of life in 18th-century British society." Michael Prodger called Dolan "an exceptionally assured guide" in a review for the London Telegraph, and Judy P. Sopronyi commented in British Heritage that "The potter's drive seems to permeate the book, impelling the reader on."



Booklist, November 15, 2001, Mary Carroll, review of Ladies of the Grand Tour: British Women in Pursuit of Enlightenment and Adventure in Eighteenth-Century Europe, p. 543; September 15, 2002, Brad Hooper, review of Ladies of the Grand Tour, p. 204; October 15, 2004, David Siegfried, review of Wedgwood: The First Tycoon, p. 385.

British Heritage, March, 2005, Judy P. Sopronyi, review of Wedgwood, p. 60.

Canadian Journal of History, December, 2001, Rob Iliffe, review of Exploring European Frontiers: British Travellers in the Age of Enlightenment, p. 542.

Contemporary Review, October, 2001, review of Ladies of the Grand Tour, p. 252; April, 2005, review of Wedgwood, p. 251.

English Historical Review, April, 2001, Bruce Redford, review of Exploring European Frontiers, p. 488.

Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2001, review of Ladies of the Grand Tour, p. 1334; August 15, 2004, review of Wedgwood, p. 785.

M2 Best Books, March 13, 2002, Darren Ingram, review of Ladies of the Grand Tour.

Publishers Weekly, August 16, 2004, review of Wedgwood, p. 53.

Spectator, June 16, 2001, Jane Gardam, review of Ladies of the Grand Tour, p. 38.


Telegraph Online, (November 14, 2004), Michael Prodger, "He Didn't Have Feet of Clay," review of Wedgwood.