Frank James is a professor of the history of science at University College London, having worked previously at the Royal Institution. His main research concentrates on the physical sciences in the late-18th and 19th centuries and how they relate to other areas of society and culture such as art, literature, business, media, religion, technology, and the military. He edited the Correspondence of Michael Faraday, published in six volumes between 1991 and 2012, and a number of essay collections, including “The Common Purposes of Life,” a set of papers on the Royal Institution. His book, Michael Faraday: A Very Short Introduction, was published in 2010 by Oxford University Press, which the following year published his sesquicentenary edition of Faraday’s Chemical History of a Candle. James’s current research is on the practical work of Humphry Davy, including his work on nitrous oxide, agricultural chemistry, mineralogy, the miners’ safety lamp, analysis of ancient Roman pigments, and his attempts to unroll chemically the papyri excavated from Herculaneum. He has published on many of these topics, and has also talked about them in meetings and on radio and television.
James has been president of the British Society for the History of Science, the Newcomen Society for the History of Engineering and Technology, the History of Science Section of the British Science Association, and is currently chair of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry. He was also chair of the National Organizing Committee for the XXIVth International Congress for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine held in Manchester in July 2013. He was elected a member of the Academia Europaea in 2012 and is also a membre effectif of the Académie Internationale d’Histoire des Sciences and a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Scientific Instrument Makers.