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.


The Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery

Thanks to the good offices of Derby Museums and Art Gallery we were able to film there recently to create a video about The Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery.

The museum is closed on a Monday so it was possible to get some shots that really show off the beautiful Joseph Wright Gallery where the Orrery painting hangs in pride of place.

You can view the video on Youtube.

New Venture into Electronic Publishing

I have resisted the suggestion that I should normally make my Enlightenment mini-monographs available on Kindle, since I want to redirect people to the actual Shops at Derby Museum and Erasmus Darwin House in Lichfield. However I have decided to experiment with the electronic publication of something completely different.

My first Kindle publication is an expanded, and now lavishly illustrated, version of a piece I wrote for the Cambridge Review to mark Stephen Hawking’s 50th birthday. (He will be 75 next year !) Its whimsical title is taken from a remark by Einstein, viz. Did God have any Choice in the Creation of the World?  Look for it on AmazonI would be very interested to know what people make of it !


This venture has prompted me to prepare a similar electronic publication for the piece I began a result of giving a warm-up talk before Robert Lloyd Parry’s one-man performance of H.G. Wells The Time Machine at the Derby Guildhall in 2014. This volume will take a little time to complete, thanks to all the pictures I am having to create to try to make some complex ideas intuitively clear, but it will be a full-sized book entitled Time and Time Travel in Physics, Fiction and Philosophy.

Quandary pondering

Lecturer paying homage to Philosopher (cropped) copy

The author paying homage to the Philosopher lecturing on the Orrery before speaking on 10th November 2015 (photograph Anne Powers)

Welcome to the new website for Quandary Books.

It features the series of ‘mini-monographs’ on Enlightenment figures which I’ve been writing to support Derby Museum and Art Gallery and Erasmus Darwin House in Lichfield. (Some of them have also been on sale at Derby Cathedral, Chatsworth House, and the Buxton Museum.)

The first five are already into their second editions, despite sales having relied previously just on ‘passing trade’. People have commented that these little books should be more widely available since, though the pretext for writing them has been that they had connections with Derbyshire, the people I discuss are of world significance.

It is an interesting discipline to be limited to the number of pages which can be made into a stapled booklet. This keeps the cost down, even in full colour. One has to write to fit the page (including illustrations and footnotes) and the total number of pages has to be a multiple of four.

They have all involved voyages of discovery for me and all of them contain at least something you will not find anywhere else. It would have been easy to turn them into full-sized books – without actually adding any content ! – but the idea is that they would be so cheap as to be irresistible.

And in any case the profits go to support the work of important cultural charities. So do have a look !
Jonathan Powers