This is a book on the life and times of Robert Chambers, founder of W. & R. Chambers publishers. Although there are now books based on some of his letters and on the impact of one of his books, The Vestiges of Natural Creation, there are no books on the whole man and his life. Written by Iris Macfarlane with Alan Macfarlane, the book weaves together three strands. At one level, it is a biography of Chambers and his family; the portrait of a rise from absolute poverty to great wealth and influence. At the second it provides the context of his life by the way of a portrait of nineteenth century Edinburgh as seen through his eyes. At the third it explores the intellectual and organisational revolutions embodied in his life, the explorations in history, folklore, geology, publishing, education and many other fields which made him one of the most exciting thinkers of his age. It is based on extensive archival research among the Chambers’ archives in Edinburgh and conversations with his descendants.
Please note: This title is co-published with Social Science Press, New Delhi. Taylor & Francis does not sell or distribute the Hardback in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Table of Contents
1. Preface 2. Childhood in Peebles 3. Early Education 4. The Dark Ages 5. The Early Struggle 6. The Antiquarian and Local Historian 7. The Folklorist 8. The Family Man 10. The Publisher and Social Observer 11. Publisher and Mass Educator 12. The Writing of Vestiges 14. The Reception of Vestiges 14. Biographer and Historian 15. The Whole Man 16. The Written Works of Robert Chambers 17. Selected Further Reading
Iris Macfarlane, was born in Quetta, India (now Pakistan) in 1922. She was sent home to England and when she was sixteen was taken out to India in 1939. She learnt Assamese and translated Assamese folk-tales which were published as Tales and Legends from India (1965). She also wrote a children’s novel about her daughters as The Children of Bird God Hill (1967). She studied Assamese and Indian history, which led to a number of articles in History Today, and the book The Black Hole; The Makings
of a Legend (1975).
She moved the Hebridean island of North Uist. There she learnt Gaelic and published a book of translations of folk stories, The Mouth of the Night (1973). She also wrote another children’s story, The Summer of the Lame Seagull (1970). She contributed over thirty articles of a ‘Hebridean Journal’ to the Scotsman recounting life on the croft. These have been published as And We in Dreams; A Hebridean Journal (2017). She wrote a number of short stories which were broadcast on the B.B.C. Later she wrote and an autobiographical history of four generations of her family as Daughters of the Empire: A Memoir of Life and Times in the British Raj (2006; republished 2011). Iris died in Wolverhampton in February 2007. Her selected poems, Love's Legacy, were published in 2017.
Alan Macfarlane was born in Shillong, India, in 1941 and educated at the Dragon School, Sedbergh School, Oxford and London Universities where he received two Master's degrees and two doctorates. He is the author of over forty books, including The Origins of English Individualism (1978) and Letters to Lily: On How the World Works (2005). He has worked in England, Nepal, Japan and China as both an historian and anthropologist. He was elected to the British Academy in 1986 and is now Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the University of Cambridge and a Life Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge.