For fifths of his long life, Benjamin Franklin regarded himself as British. In 1757 he arrived in London as one of the most celebrated scientists of his age and as a political representative who fiercely advocated a Great British empire of North America. From his London home in Craven Street, here in what is today’s Benjamin Franklin House, he fought to keep that ambition alive right up to March 1775, when he was forced to take ship for America to escape arrest by the British authorities.
George Goodwin, our Honorary Author in Residence at Benjamin Franklin House, captures the fullness of Dr Franklin’s life in the heaving metropolis of 18th century London. He describes Franklin’s friendship with men such as Joseph Priestley and the notorious Francis Dashwood, charts Franklin’s political cooperation with Prime Ministers William Pitt the Elder and the Marquess of Rockingham, and details the final antagonism with the ‘mangling ministers’ in Lord North’s administration which ultimately made Franklin the fiercest of American patriots. In a highly illustrated talk, George tells Benjamin Franklin’s London story with wit and verve.
As well as great friend of this house, George is an Eccles Centre Makin Fellow at the British Library, was the 2018/9 Busey Family Fellow at the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon, and has twice been a Fellow at the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello. George is also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
George’s book, Benjamin Franklin in London: The British Life of America’s Founding Father (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, UK; Yale University Press, USA), was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week
Among the review praise was T H Breen’s comment, in the Times Literary Supplement, that “George Goodwin captures as well as any recent biographer just why Franklin’s contemporaries found him so captivating.”