Brunel and the Art of Invention


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Isambard Kingdom Brunel embodies the self-reliance, hard work and inventiveness which was a core achievement of the nineteenth century; Robert Howlett’s famous photograph Brunel with chains has become an iconic image of the spirit of creative adventure. This man, ‘in love with the impossible’, by sheer brilliance of invention and force of will, helped transform modern transport, engineering and architecture. In this sumptuously illustrated study, Claire O’ Mahony shows how the self-made inventors whom Brunel has come to epitomise were shaped by a society that recognized the creative interaction between the worlds of art, industry and science. The book has other dimensions. The author looks at the role of women in art and industry, and also suggests that our awareness of the Victorian legacy will be longer-lasting and wider-reaching if we recognise the difficulties many young Britons experience in coping with the heroic view of the nation’s history so well illustrated in this book. 265 x 210mm 64pp ISBN 1 904537 50 2 paperback