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Lunar Society

From Academic Kids

The Lunar Society was a discussion club of prominent industrialists and scientists, who met regularly between 1765 and 1813 in Birmingham, England. At first called the Lunar Circle, 'Lunar Society' became the formal name by 1775. The society's name came from their practice of scheduling their meetings at the time of the full moon. Since there was no street lighting, the extra light made the journey home easier. Venues included Matthew Boulton's home, Soho House, and Great Barr Hall.

The members of the Lunar Society were very influential in Britain in their day. Amongst those who attended meetings more or less regularly were Matthew Boulton, Erasmus Darwin, Samuel Galton Junior, James Keir, William Murdoch, Joseph Priestley, Josiah Wedgwood, James Watt and William Withering.

More peripheral characters and correspondents included Sir Richard Arkwright, John Baskerville, Thomas Beddoes, Thomas Day, Richard Lovell Edgeworth, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Anna Seward, William Small, John Smeaton, Thomas Wedgwood, John Wilkinson, Joseph Wright, James Wyatt, Samuel Wyatt.

Antoine Lavoisier frequently corresponded with various members of the group, as did Benjamin Franklin, who also visited them in Birmingham on several occasions.

As the members grew older and died, the Lunar Society was closed in 1813, and all former members had died by 1820.

Among memorials to the Society and its members are the Moonstones; two statues of Watt and a statue of Boulton, Watt and Murdoch, by William Bloye; and the museum at Soho House – all in Birmingham, England.

Further reading

  • The Lunar Men: Five Friends Whose Curiosity Changed the World by Jenny Uglow (Faber & Faber, 2002)

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