The Rediscovery of Lucy Hardcastle

A new monograph, written with the assistance of detailed research by professional genealogist Anne Powers, demonstrates the true identity of Lucy Hardcastle, establishes her place among the female Botanists of the early 19th century, and show how she was able to set up a school to provide for her family in the wake of the failure of the business run by her ailing husband. The new Appendix to the volume on Erasmus Darwin had set in train a series of events which led to Derby Museum and Art Gallery obtaining a rare illustrated manuscript by her. This new monograph transcribes the text and reproduces the illustrations of what transpires to be an account of some of her original research, presented to her son-in-law Dr Francis Boott possibly to celebrate his graduation from Edinburgh and his setting up as a Physician practising in London. The ramifications of her direct and indirect influence turn out to be very significant,

Herbert Spencer

The volume on Herbert Spencer – billed as Part II in ‘Evolution’ evolving, as a sequel to the monograph on Erasmus Darwin came out late last year.

It gives an account of his early career and continuing connections with Derby, which continued for a long time with periods of sojourn a few hundred yards from where this little book was written. It gives a succinct account of his vast ‘Synthetic Philosophy’ paying particular attention to his Psychology, and his contribution to the founding of Sociology as a new discipline, but raises questions about ‘Spencerism’ as an ideology itself in need of a sociological analysis.

New Pamphlet on Derbyshire Prehistoric Rock Art

Just published – an astronomical interpretation of the prehistoric cup and ring carvings discovered in Ashover and at certain sites further north, linking them to the dawn rising of specific constellations at key dates in the agricultural year. It is suggested that these petroglyphs may have featured in communal celebrations thanks to simulating key constellations by reflections in moonlight or torchlight. A quantitative method of assessing similarities between constellations and petroglyphs is proposed which appears to corroborate the suggested method of mapping the sky, by explaining systematic distortion. It is hoped that this publication might stimulate further enquiries into the meaning of a ubiquitous feature of our northern landscapes.

New Extended Edition on Erasmus Darwin

The new edition of ‘Evolution’ evolving – Part I, Dr Erasmus Darwin is dedicated to the memory of Dr Desmond King-Hele FRS. It has more on Radicalism and Repression in the 1790s, and a new Appendix which resolves the puzzle of Lucy Hardcastle’s origins, created by Charles Darwin thinking she was another illegitimate daughter of his grandfather’s.

The Female Infidel – a new book

A new book, written close to home, although not by Quandary Books.


This new book tells the story of Fanny Dashwood. Born to great wealth, but illegitimate, she lost her much loved father Sir Francis Dashwood (he of the Hell-Fire Club) when a small child. Educated in France with princesses, aristocrats and the daughters of Thomas Jefferson, future President of America, she was forced to abandon the studies she loved and return to England at the outbreak of revolution.

Once there she became embroiled in a series of teenage scrapes involving young men, which culminated eventually in elopement, furious rows and separation. Several years later she was abducted and raped, forced to attend a trial that destroyed her reputation and failed to deliver justice. It led Thomas De Quincey to name her as the ‘Female Infidel’.

There are very modern echoes in her persecution by the media, vilification by cartoonists and sufferings at the hands of stalkers. Despite all this she continued her studies and published her Essay on Government, which might have had greater success had she not already achieved notoriety. She is now remembered, if at all, for all the wrong reasons.

History has not been kind to her. I hope this book will help to redress the balance.

Buy the book direct at the special 10% discount price.

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Available in perfect bound paperback A5 384 pages with illustrations.

ISBN: 9780244724160


Also available on Amazon in paperback and for Kindle.


Decoding the Vestry Ceiling at St Mary’s Beverley

Coming shortly: a short pamphlet analysing the celestial ceiling of St Mary’s Church and revealing four different dateable stages of development: from the original pre-Reformation painting in 1525, to the celebration in 1557 of the return of sacramental practice during the Marian Reaction, and finally the entirely different naturalistic perspective provided by the Enlightenment.

The Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery in Joseph Wright’s famous painting was almost certainly responsible for initiating the changes which are dateable to 1771/2 and 1782.

Ready for the new Dr Who ?

Next week  Quandary Books will be publishing a Trilogy of little monographs, entitled TIME, SPACE, AND TIME-TRAVEL – Physics, Fiction, and Philosophy.

It explores the tensions between Mathematical and Narrative concepts of Time, exploring the impact of revolutions discoveries in physics, a plethora of bewildering paradoxes, and attempts to exploit some of these ideas in fiction and on film.

What is ultimately at stake is fundamental to our efforts to make sense of ‘Reality’ and our own place as conscious beings in the scheme of things.

Derby Book Fair 9th June 2018

We will be exhibiting at the Derby Book Fair in St Peter’s Church Hall on 9th June during the 2018 Derby Book Festival. There will be four new volumes on sale written since the Fair last year. They are

(1) The third edition of ‘Henry Cavendish – the Man who ‘weighed’ the Earth‘, with a new extensive Appendix on Measurement in Physics, the importance of ‘Universal Constants’, and over two centuries of efforts to improve on Cavendish’s implied result for the Gravitational Constant ;

(2)’Nature, Power, and Liberty – Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury and Derbyshire’, placing his natural and political philosophy in its historical context;

(3) ‘The Many Blazing Worlds of Margaret Cavendish – a Seventeenth Century Woman’s struggle to be taken seriously as a ‘Philosopher’;

(4) ‘ΑΤΟΜΟΣ – Inventing the Ultimate Constituents of ‘Matter’‘ – this began as an Appendix to the Margaret Cavendish book but quickly took on a life of its own.