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Benjamin Franklin

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 01 March 2012

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the life and work of Benjamin Franklin. A printer, statesman, diplomat, writer and scientist, Franklin was one of the most remarkable individuals of the eighteenth century. His discoveries relating to the nature of electricity, and in particular a celebrated experiment which involved flying a kite in a thunderstorm, made him famous in Europe and America. His inventions include bifocal spectacles, and a new type of stove.

In the second half of his life he became prominent as a politician and a successful diplomat. As the only Founding Father to have signed all three of the fundamental documents of the United States of America, including its Declaration of Independence and Constitution, Benjamin Franklin occupies a unique position in the history of the nation.

With:

Simon Middleton
Senior Lecturer in American History at the University of Sheffield

Simon Newman
Sir Denis Brogan Professor of American History at the University of Glasgow

Patricia Fara
Senior Tutor at Clare College, University of Cambridge.

Producer: Thomas Morris.

  • FURTHER READING

    James Delbourgo, 'A Most Amazing Scene of Wonders' (Harvard, 2006)

    Patricia Fara, 'An Entertainment for Angels: Electricity in the Enlightenment' (Icon, 2002)

    Leo Lemay, 'The Life of Benjamin Franklin' (University of Pennsylvania Press, 3 volumes, 2005-2008)

    Edmund S. Morgan, 'Benjamin Franklin' (Yale University Press, 2002)

    David Waldstreicher, 'A Companion to Benjamin Franklin' (John Wiley and Sons-Blackwell, 2011)

    David Waldstreicher, 'Runaway America: Benjamin Franklin, Slavery and the American Revolution' (New York: Hill and Wang, 2004)

    Gordon S. Wood, 'The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin' (Penguin Press, 2004)

    Esmond Wright, 'Franklin of Philadelphia' (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1986)

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