Benjamin Franklin in London: The British Life of America's Founding Father

Author(s): George Goodwin


For the great majority of his long life, Benjamin Franklin was a loyal British royalist. In 1757, having made his fortune in Philadelphia and established his fame as a renowned experimental scientist, he crossed the Atlantic to live as a gentleman in the heaving metropolis of London. With just a brief interlude, a house in Craven Street was to be his home until 1775. From there he mixed with both the brilliant and the powerful, whether in London coffee house clubs, at the Royal Society, or on his summer travels around the British Isles and continental Europe. He counted David Hume, Matthew Boulton, Joseph Priestley, Edmund Burke and Erasmus Darwin among his friends, and as an American colonial representative he had access to successive Prime Ministers and even the King. The early 1760s saw Britain's elevation to global superpower status with victory in the Seven Years War and the succession of the young, active George III. These two events brought a sharp new edge to political competition in London and redefined the relationship between Britain and its colonies. They would profoundly affect Franklin himself, eventually placing him in opposition with his ambitious son William.
Though Franklin long sought to prevent the break with Great Britain, his own actions would finally help cause that very event. On the eve of the American War of Independence, Franklin fled arrest and escaped by sea. He would never return to London. With his unique focus on the fullness of Benjamin Franklin's life in London, George Goodwin has created an enthralling portrait of the man, the city and the age.


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There are three Benjamin Franklins, the American, the British and the French. The first and the last are famous, the second forgotten ... The British Franklin, the subject of this fascinating and detailed biography, may well be the real Franklin ... George Goodwin's vividly detailed account presents Franklin as a scientific, sociable Londoner. It was Britain's loss he could not remain one. -- Dominic Green LITERARY REVIEW wonderful ... to be reminded of a time when America produced great men who revered science, were sceptical towards religion, eagerly studied philosophy and argued with both wit and wisdom -- Gerard DeGroot THE TIMES interesting, lively account of Franklin's 'British life' ... Goodwin presents a diverting portrait of Franklin's place in British Enlightenment culture, but his real forte is political history. Goodwin's detailed narrative of Franklin's diplomatic failures offers a fascinating perspective on this descent from imperial triumph to imperial catastrophe. -- Jeffrey Collins WALL STREET JOURNAL The respected British historian and biographer George Goodwin provides us with a thoroughly researched and accessibly written chronicle of that important time of Franklin's transformation from place-seeking provincial lobbyist to risk-taking revolutionary sparkplug ...Mr. Goodwin's story is the stuff of suspenseful history. THE WASHINGTON TIMES [Goodwin's] narrative moves gracefully from heated confrontations with cabinet ministers to intimate aspects of Franklin's home life. TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT A sensitive, finely textured and moving account THE OLDIE Elegantly written ... an enjoyable introduction to Franklin's time in the imperial metropolis. Replete with anecdote -- John Brewer NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS Goodwin's enjoyable biography... -- Tim Stanley HISTORY TODAY Benjamin Franklin in London is out now everybody. You must get a copy, it is fantastic. -- Dan Snow HISTORY HIT PODCAST

George Goodwin is a history graduate of Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he was awarded a Foundation exhibition. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and of the Royal Society of Arts. He lives in Kew.

General Fields

  • : 9781780227351
  • : Orion Publishing Co
  • : Weidenfeld & Nicolson
  • : February 2017
  • : 159mm X 201mm X 25mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : George Goodwin
  • : Paperback
  • : 1
  • : 973.3092
  • : 384