Joseph Priestley's Chart of Biography

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Joseph Priestley's Chart of Biography

This is Joseph Priestley's Description of his own Chart of Biography, one of the first timelines. An illustration of a small part of his timeline is visible on the left hand side. It organised several centuries of historic time on a constant timescale. Lines were used - for the first time ever - to show the duration of each individual's life. Priestley used dots at the end of a lifeline if he was not sure of the date - also an innovation at the time.

I bought this book from a bookshop in Canterbury a couple of years ago. There are very few examples surviving of the actual chart, but there is one in the British Library and one at Chetham's Library in Manchester. The first editions of the timeline and of this little book date from 1765.

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No. 72 Saint Paul's Churchyard




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