Hamblyn, Richard 1965–
Hamblyn, Richard 1965–
PERSONAL: Born 1965.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 19 Union Square W., New York, NY 10003.
CAREER: Geologist. Nottingham University, Nottingham, England, postdoctoral research fellow.
The Invention of Clouds: How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 2001.
(Editor) Earthly Powers (Volume 3 of "Literature and Science, 1660–1834" series), Pickering & Chatto (London, England), 2003.
(Editor and author of introduction and notes) Daniel Defoe, The Storm, Penguin (New York, NY), 2005.
Also reviewer for the London Review of Books.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Terra: Tales of the Earth.
SIDELIGHTS: Geologist Richard Hamblyn's research and writings focus on the natural world. His first book, The Invention of Clouds: How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies, was published on the two-hundredth anniversary of Luke Howard's presentation to the Askesian Society of his list of cloud names. Howard, an amateur British scientist, first named the clouds we continue to identify as cirrus, cumulus, stratus, as well as nimbus, a cloud that he considered a combination of the primary three. Hamblyn offers both an overview of Howard's life and the science of clouds, and as a writer who compares science and art, he includes anecdotes and poetry that demonstrate those relationships. Howard was a Quaker and an apprentice chemist (druggist) when he began to study clouds. His paper was titled On the Modifications of Clouds, and after it was published in a journal, like-minded naturalists praised his work, including Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who wrote a series of poems in honor of Howard.
Alfred Corn noted in the New York Times Book Review that "the Romantics, turning inward to private consciousness, found a fluidity for which clouds are an especially apt metaphor." As Hamblyn notes in his tribute, "by naming the clouds, by giving language and a greater visibility to things that had hitherto been nameless and unknowable, he completely transformed the relationship between the world and its overarching sky." Weatherwise reviewer Stanley David Gedzelman wrote that "from the first page, I felt transported back to a time when the face of the modern world was taking shape and when a humble man put an indelible stamp on the clouds, forever changing their place in our minds and in our imaginations."
Hamblyn also edited Earthly Powers, the third volume in the "Literature and Science, 1660–1834" series published by Pickering & Chatto. The book studies the perception of natural events, including volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, energy storms, and less violent "powers," such as tides and clouds, by eighteenth-and nineteenth-century writers and philosophers. Hamblyn is also editor of the reprint of Daniel Defoe's The Storm, an account of the devastation caused by the hurricane that traveled from the Caribbean to strike England on November 26, 1703, causing the loss of eight thousand lives.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Book, July, 2001, review of The Invention of Clouds: How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies, p. 13.
Booklist, June 1, 2001, Gilbert Taylor, review of The Invention of Clouds, p. 1809.
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, May, 2002, Walt Lyons, review of The Invention of Clouds, p. 742.
Entertainment Weekly, August 3, 2001, Suzanne Rutat, review of The Invention of Clouds, p. 62.
Forbes, August 6, 2001, Susan Adams, review of The Invention of Clouds, p. 114.
Harper's, January, 2002, Guy Davenport, review of The Invention of Clouds, p. 64.
M2 Best Books, December 9, 2002, Jamie Ayres, review of The Invention of Clouds.
New York Times Book Review, July 29, 2001, Alfred Corn, review of The Invention of Clouds, p. 22.
Publishers Weekly, June 11, 2001, review of The Invention of Clouds, p. 74.
School Library Journal, December, 2001, Barbara A. Genco, review of The Invention of Clouds, p. 58.
Science, March 5, 2004, review of The Storm, p. 1471.
Scientific American, January, 2002, review of The Invention of Clouds, p. 95.
Weatherwise, January-February, 2002, Stanley David Gedzelman, review of The Invention of Clouds, p. 42.
Wordsworth Circle, fall, 2003, Ashton Nichols, review of Earthly Powers, p. 234.