By Richard Vinen, do not forget that the Lunar Society (subject of the very first MR post!) was based there. Here is one excerpt:
What has come to be called the Birmingham or Midlands Enlightenment brought together an unusually curious and energetic group of men…Joseph Priestly and William Hutton epitomized the atmosphere of optimism, uninhibited enquiry and material prosperity some associated with Birmingham in the eighteenth century. The former was a minister of religion, though mainly known to posterity as a scientist; the latter was a well-to-do bookseller, though mainly known to posterity as a writer, particularly as the author of the first history of his adopted city. Both men, however, came ot have less happy memories of Birmingham than those implied by the quotations above because both their houses were burned down in the Church and King riots of 1791.
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