Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner


Benjamin_HaydonCara/Andrea here
, I have recently been doing some background research on art and science in the Regency for a book idea I’m fiddling with. Though my scientific expertise would fit inside a very tiny test tube, I have been fascinated by the fact that there was such a great bond between the luminaries in both disciplines during the Romantic era—something I discovered when I read Richard Holmes’s delightful book The Age of Wonder

Haydon-christ-enters-jerusalemWonder is a very apt word—the painters, poets, chemists and physicists of the time—to name just a few of the disciplines—shared a sense of wonder over the intricate workings of the natural world around them, and saw themselves as sharing a common creative spirit and imagination as they sought to understand and celebrate its infinite wonders. Today, it seems, the fields of art and science are worlds apart, but back then, they admired each other’s work, and kept abreast of all the latest developments—the poet John Keats studied medicine, the great chemist Sir Humphry Davy wrote lyrical poetry.

John_KeatsThey exchanged letters, they met frequently over liquid libations to discuss ideas—and I can’t help but feel that the interchange between different points of view sparked both artists and scientists to challenge their own points of view. So when I came across an intriguing mention of an “Immortal Dinner” held by the painter Benjamin Haydon, I was of course, fascinated and decided to dig a little deeper . . .

William_WordsworthIt took place one late winter evening in 1817 at the artist’s studio, the occasion being to celebrate the unveiling of his new allegorical painting, Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem. (Slyly depicted in the crowd were the faces of many notable artists and scientists of the day.)The guest list featured leading artists and scientists of the day, including Wordsworth, Keats, Charles Lamb, surgeon Joseph Ritchie, engraver John Landseer, and Mary Wordsworth's cousin Tom Monkhouse

Here is a quote from Haydon’s diary:

“On December 28th the immortal dinner came off in my painting-room, with Jerusalem towering up behind us as a background. Wordsworth was in fine cue, and we had a glorious set-to–on Homer, Shakespeare, Milton and Virgil. Lamb got exceedingly merry and exquisitely witty; and his fun in the midst of Wordsworth's solemn intonations of oratory was like the sarcasm and wit of the fool in the intervals of Lear's passion. He made a speech and voted me absent, and made them drink my health. "Now," said Lamb, " you old lake poet, you rascally poet, why do you call Voltaire dull? " We all defended Wordsworth, and affirmed there was a state of mind when Voltaire would be dull. . . .”

Charles_LambBy all accounts, the conversation covered a wide range of topics (Newton’s color experiments were much maligned as having taken the poetry out of a rainbow) with erudition and no some amount of impish humor. Oh, I dearly would have loved being a fly on the wall.

GuernicaWhich of course got me to thinking . . . after all, it is heading towards the end August, when a last flurry of summer parties traditionally mark the end of the season’s lazy days and nights making merry with friends. So I began musing on who, if I had my choice of any figure in past or present history, I would ask to my own immortal dinner. Should I bring together like-minded people, or like Haydon, invite a little controversy to make things really interesting? Hmmm.

Carl_von_ClausewitzHaving an art background, I like the idea of having a painting as the centerpiece of a party. I decided I could invite Pablo Picasso, and have him bring Guernica. Then include Carl von Clausewitz, Henry Kissinger and Winston Churchill (who was an avid painter) among the other guests and debate the morality of war. Okay, okay, maybe too heavy for summer dining. Keeping on the science-art theme, an amazing gathering would be Leonardo da
FeynmanVinci, Issac Newton, Mary Shelley and Richard Feynman, the brilliant and artistic theoretical physicist who helped create the atom bomb. On a lighter note, I’d probably just invite some of my favorite artists see what color splashed across the canvas—Thomas Lawrence, JMW Turner, David Hockney, Maurice Sendak and William Bailey would be on the list.

So now it’s your turn! Who would be on your “Immortal Dinner” guest list? Let’s have some fun! (I shall send a case of cyber champagne!)

165 thoughts on “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”

  1. Hallett’s book The Immortal Dinner is a favorite of mine. I cannot begin to imagine the brilliant conversation and battles of wit to be had at this event.
    My Immortal Dinner?
    Hmmm. Mozart – every party needs a party animal. Beethoven – so he and young Mozart could meet as equals. Sparks will fly.
    Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King – can you imagine the stories these three could tell to entertain us?
    Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and Medgar Evers – Somehow I think this group might end up being the life of the party.
    Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Turner, and Hogarth. This is where the fights will start. Furniture will be knocked over, no doubt.
    Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Marcus Aurelius, Homer, Georgette Heyer and Truman Capote. Lots of laughing in this group.
    I just hope things don’t get too out of hand! Where would I hold this dinner? New Orleans, of course. No one would bat an eye at this group!

    Reply
  2. Hallett’s book The Immortal Dinner is a favorite of mine. I cannot begin to imagine the brilliant conversation and battles of wit to be had at this event.
    My Immortal Dinner?
    Hmmm. Mozart – every party needs a party animal. Beethoven – so he and young Mozart could meet as equals. Sparks will fly.
    Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King – can you imagine the stories these three could tell to entertain us?
    Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and Medgar Evers – Somehow I think this group might end up being the life of the party.
    Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Turner, and Hogarth. This is where the fights will start. Furniture will be knocked over, no doubt.
    Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Marcus Aurelius, Homer, Georgette Heyer and Truman Capote. Lots of laughing in this group.
    I just hope things don’t get too out of hand! Where would I hold this dinner? New Orleans, of course. No one would bat an eye at this group!

    Reply
  3. Hallett’s book The Immortal Dinner is a favorite of mine. I cannot begin to imagine the brilliant conversation and battles of wit to be had at this event.
    My Immortal Dinner?
    Hmmm. Mozart – every party needs a party animal. Beethoven – so he and young Mozart could meet as equals. Sparks will fly.
    Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King – can you imagine the stories these three could tell to entertain us?
    Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and Medgar Evers – Somehow I think this group might end up being the life of the party.
    Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Turner, and Hogarth. This is where the fights will start. Furniture will be knocked over, no doubt.
    Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Marcus Aurelius, Homer, Georgette Heyer and Truman Capote. Lots of laughing in this group.
    I just hope things don’t get too out of hand! Where would I hold this dinner? New Orleans, of course. No one would bat an eye at this group!

    Reply
  4. Hallett’s book The Immortal Dinner is a favorite of mine. I cannot begin to imagine the brilliant conversation and battles of wit to be had at this event.
    My Immortal Dinner?
    Hmmm. Mozart – every party needs a party animal. Beethoven – so he and young Mozart could meet as equals. Sparks will fly.
    Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King – can you imagine the stories these three could tell to entertain us?
    Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and Medgar Evers – Somehow I think this group might end up being the life of the party.
    Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Turner, and Hogarth. This is where the fights will start. Furniture will be knocked over, no doubt.
    Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Marcus Aurelius, Homer, Georgette Heyer and Truman Capote. Lots of laughing in this group.
    I just hope things don’t get too out of hand! Where would I hold this dinner? New Orleans, of course. No one would bat an eye at this group!

    Reply
  5. Hallett’s book The Immortal Dinner is a favorite of mine. I cannot begin to imagine the brilliant conversation and battles of wit to be had at this event.
    My Immortal Dinner?
    Hmmm. Mozart – every party needs a party animal. Beethoven – so he and young Mozart could meet as equals. Sparks will fly.
    Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King – can you imagine the stories these three could tell to entertain us?
    Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and Medgar Evers – Somehow I think this group might end up being the life of the party.
    Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Turner, and Hogarth. This is where the fights will start. Furniture will be knocked over, no doubt.
    Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Marcus Aurelius, Homer, Georgette Heyer and Truman Capote. Lots of laughing in this group.
    I just hope things don’t get too out of hand! Where would I hold this dinner? New Orleans, of course. No one would bat an eye at this group!

    Reply
  6. Louisa, I definitely want to come party with you! Love your lists! Jane Austen would of course be on one of my dinner lists too, but y love you pairing her with Truman Capote and Georgette Heyer, Shakespeare, et. al. . . .OMG, would that be a night to remember!
    But all the groupings are wonderful. Thank you for being the hostess extraordinaire!

    Reply
  7. Louisa, I definitely want to come party with you! Love your lists! Jane Austen would of course be on one of my dinner lists too, but y love you pairing her with Truman Capote and Georgette Heyer, Shakespeare, et. al. . . .OMG, would that be a night to remember!
    But all the groupings are wonderful. Thank you for being the hostess extraordinaire!

    Reply
  8. Louisa, I definitely want to come party with you! Love your lists! Jane Austen would of course be on one of my dinner lists too, but y love you pairing her with Truman Capote and Georgette Heyer, Shakespeare, et. al. . . .OMG, would that be a night to remember!
    But all the groupings are wonderful. Thank you for being the hostess extraordinaire!

    Reply
  9. Louisa, I definitely want to come party with you! Love your lists! Jane Austen would of course be on one of my dinner lists too, but y love you pairing her with Truman Capote and Georgette Heyer, Shakespeare, et. al. . . .OMG, would that be a night to remember!
    But all the groupings are wonderful. Thank you for being the hostess extraordinaire!

    Reply
  10. Louisa, I definitely want to come party with you! Love your lists! Jane Austen would of course be on one of my dinner lists too, but y love you pairing her with Truman Capote and Georgette Heyer, Shakespeare, et. al. . . .OMG, would that be a night to remember!
    But all the groupings are wonderful. Thank you for being the hostess extraordinaire!

    Reply
  11. Two fun posts in a row.
    da Vinci is definitively on my list. Other artists that I’d love the chance to hear are Matisse and Picasso as well as Frank Lloyd Wright. Scientists that I find fascinating are Eistein and Stephen Hawkings. In the other category, are Wellington, Napolean, and Adam Smith. There’s also some women in various categories that interest me, including Madame Curie, Florence NIgtengale, and Frances Gabe (she invented the self-cleaning house).

    Reply
  12. Two fun posts in a row.
    da Vinci is definitively on my list. Other artists that I’d love the chance to hear are Matisse and Picasso as well as Frank Lloyd Wright. Scientists that I find fascinating are Eistein and Stephen Hawkings. In the other category, are Wellington, Napolean, and Adam Smith. There’s also some women in various categories that interest me, including Madame Curie, Florence NIgtengale, and Frances Gabe (she invented the self-cleaning house).

    Reply
  13. Two fun posts in a row.
    da Vinci is definitively on my list. Other artists that I’d love the chance to hear are Matisse and Picasso as well as Frank Lloyd Wright. Scientists that I find fascinating are Eistein and Stephen Hawkings. In the other category, are Wellington, Napolean, and Adam Smith. There’s also some women in various categories that interest me, including Madame Curie, Florence NIgtengale, and Frances Gabe (she invented the self-cleaning house).

    Reply
  14. Two fun posts in a row.
    da Vinci is definitively on my list. Other artists that I’d love the chance to hear are Matisse and Picasso as well as Frank Lloyd Wright. Scientists that I find fascinating are Eistein and Stephen Hawkings. In the other category, are Wellington, Napolean, and Adam Smith. There’s also some women in various categories that interest me, including Madame Curie, Florence NIgtengale, and Frances Gabe (she invented the self-cleaning house).

    Reply
  15. Two fun posts in a row.
    da Vinci is definitively on my list. Other artists that I’d love the chance to hear are Matisse and Picasso as well as Frank Lloyd Wright. Scientists that I find fascinating are Eistein and Stephen Hawkings. In the other category, are Wellington, Napolean, and Adam Smith. There’s also some women in various categories that interest me, including Madame Curie, Florence NIgtengale, and Frances Gabe (she invented the self-cleaning house).

    Reply
  16. Barbara Mertz(Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters), Agatha Christie, Winston Churchill, Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Cronkite, Edward R Murrow,Van Gogh, Renoir and Degas, Mary Cassat, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy and Rita Hayworth.
    There is beauty, wisdom, humor, knowledge and generosity. I think each of them would be able to share ideas about life which have escaped me.

    Reply
  17. Barbara Mertz(Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters), Agatha Christie, Winston Churchill, Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Cronkite, Edward R Murrow,Van Gogh, Renoir and Degas, Mary Cassat, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy and Rita Hayworth.
    There is beauty, wisdom, humor, knowledge and generosity. I think each of them would be able to share ideas about life which have escaped me.

    Reply
  18. Barbara Mertz(Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters), Agatha Christie, Winston Churchill, Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Cronkite, Edward R Murrow,Van Gogh, Renoir and Degas, Mary Cassat, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy and Rita Hayworth.
    There is beauty, wisdom, humor, knowledge and generosity. I think each of them would be able to share ideas about life which have escaped me.

    Reply
  19. Barbara Mertz(Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters), Agatha Christie, Winston Churchill, Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Cronkite, Edward R Murrow,Van Gogh, Renoir and Degas, Mary Cassat, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy and Rita Hayworth.
    There is beauty, wisdom, humor, knowledge and generosity. I think each of them would be able to share ideas about life which have escaped me.

    Reply
  20. Barbara Mertz(Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters), Agatha Christie, Winston Churchill, Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Cronkite, Edward R Murrow,Van Gogh, Renoir and Degas, Mary Cassat, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy and Rita Hayworth.
    There is beauty, wisdom, humor, knowledge and generosity. I think each of them would be able to share ideas about life which have escaped me.

    Reply
  21. Shannon, the list of fascinating people could go on and on (perhaps we need a series of dinners, like a monthly salon!) Metternich and Talleyrand and Tsar Alexander would be good to invite with Wellington and Napoleon (just don’t sit next to Alexander if you don’t want a hand up your skirt.)
    We definitely need more women to partner the men. Georgia O’Keefe, Virginia Wolfe, the Bronte sisters, Ann Radcliffe . . . Queen Elizabeth, Catherine the Great, Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher . . .

    Reply
  22. Shannon, the list of fascinating people could go on and on (perhaps we need a series of dinners, like a monthly salon!) Metternich and Talleyrand and Tsar Alexander would be good to invite with Wellington and Napoleon (just don’t sit next to Alexander if you don’t want a hand up your skirt.)
    We definitely need more women to partner the men. Georgia O’Keefe, Virginia Wolfe, the Bronte sisters, Ann Radcliffe . . . Queen Elizabeth, Catherine the Great, Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher . . .

    Reply
  23. Shannon, the list of fascinating people could go on and on (perhaps we need a series of dinners, like a monthly salon!) Metternich and Talleyrand and Tsar Alexander would be good to invite with Wellington and Napoleon (just don’t sit next to Alexander if you don’t want a hand up your skirt.)
    We definitely need more women to partner the men. Georgia O’Keefe, Virginia Wolfe, the Bronte sisters, Ann Radcliffe . . . Queen Elizabeth, Catherine the Great, Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher . . .

    Reply
  24. Shannon, the list of fascinating people could go on and on (perhaps we need a series of dinners, like a monthly salon!) Metternich and Talleyrand and Tsar Alexander would be good to invite with Wellington and Napoleon (just don’t sit next to Alexander if you don’t want a hand up your skirt.)
    We definitely need more women to partner the men. Georgia O’Keefe, Virginia Wolfe, the Bronte sisters, Ann Radcliffe . . . Queen Elizabeth, Catherine the Great, Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher . . .

    Reply
  25. Shannon, the list of fascinating people could go on and on (perhaps we need a series of dinners, like a monthly salon!) Metternich and Talleyrand and Tsar Alexander would be good to invite with Wellington and Napoleon (just don’t sit next to Alexander if you don’t want a hand up your skirt.)
    We definitely need more women to partner the men. Georgia O’Keefe, Virginia Wolfe, the Bronte sisters, Ann Radcliffe . . . Queen Elizabeth, Catherine the Great, Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher . . .

    Reply
  26. Do you think it was because it was a much smaller class of people (with massive social overlap) who were involved? I always find it sad that the true ideal of a liberal arts education (a classic gentleman’s education) seems to be lost on many educated and talented people.

    Reply
  27. Do you think it was because it was a much smaller class of people (with massive social overlap) who were involved? I always find it sad that the true ideal of a liberal arts education (a classic gentleman’s education) seems to be lost on many educated and talented people.

    Reply
  28. Do you think it was because it was a much smaller class of people (with massive social overlap) who were involved? I always find it sad that the true ideal of a liberal arts education (a classic gentleman’s education) seems to be lost on many educated and talented people.

    Reply
  29. Do you think it was because it was a much smaller class of people (with massive social overlap) who were involved? I always find it sad that the true ideal of a liberal arts education (a classic gentleman’s education) seems to be lost on many educated and talented people.

    Reply
  30. Do you think it was because it was a much smaller class of people (with massive social overlap) who were involved? I always find it sad that the true ideal of a liberal arts education (a classic gentleman’s education) seems to be lost on many educated and talented people.

    Reply
  31. Isobel. I think that may be part of the reason, but I also think it was the awareness of the world around them was changing in many ways. There was an intellectual curiosity in what made things “tick” and the traditional answers of religion, etc. didn’t answer them all. The sense of “self” was also emerging and so the cross-pollination of ideas was exciting.
    I regret that a wide-ranging education seems to be losing steam . .having a broad cultural reference of knowledge is, to me, a great enrichment of life. (And i think we all are more interesting if we have a broad range of interests.)

    Reply
  32. Isobel. I think that may be part of the reason, but I also think it was the awareness of the world around them was changing in many ways. There was an intellectual curiosity in what made things “tick” and the traditional answers of religion, etc. didn’t answer them all. The sense of “self” was also emerging and so the cross-pollination of ideas was exciting.
    I regret that a wide-ranging education seems to be losing steam . .having a broad cultural reference of knowledge is, to me, a great enrichment of life. (And i think we all are more interesting if we have a broad range of interests.)

    Reply
  33. Isobel. I think that may be part of the reason, but I also think it was the awareness of the world around them was changing in many ways. There was an intellectual curiosity in what made things “tick” and the traditional answers of religion, etc. didn’t answer them all. The sense of “self” was also emerging and so the cross-pollination of ideas was exciting.
    I regret that a wide-ranging education seems to be losing steam . .having a broad cultural reference of knowledge is, to me, a great enrichment of life. (And i think we all are more interesting if we have a broad range of interests.)

    Reply
  34. Isobel. I think that may be part of the reason, but I also think it was the awareness of the world around them was changing in many ways. There was an intellectual curiosity in what made things “tick” and the traditional answers of religion, etc. didn’t answer them all. The sense of “self” was also emerging and so the cross-pollination of ideas was exciting.
    I regret that a wide-ranging education seems to be losing steam . .having a broad cultural reference of knowledge is, to me, a great enrichment of life. (And i think we all are more interesting if we have a broad range of interests.)

    Reply
  35. Isobel. I think that may be part of the reason, but I also think it was the awareness of the world around them was changing in many ways. There was an intellectual curiosity in what made things “tick” and the traditional answers of religion, etc. didn’t answer them all. The sense of “self” was also emerging and so the cross-pollination of ideas was exciting.
    I regret that a wide-ranging education seems to be losing steam . .having a broad cultural reference of knowledge is, to me, a great enrichment of life. (And i think we all are more interesting if we have a broad range of interests.)

    Reply
  36. I’m going all American here—
    Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, Abigail Adams, Louisa May Alcott, Sacajawea, and, though I am sure they would have interesting things to say, I would love to sit and just hear the voices of Edward R. Murrow and Orson Welles

    Reply
  37. I’m going all American here—
    Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, Abigail Adams, Louisa May Alcott, Sacajawea, and, though I am sure they would have interesting things to say, I would love to sit and just hear the voices of Edward R. Murrow and Orson Welles

    Reply
  38. I’m going all American here—
    Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, Abigail Adams, Louisa May Alcott, Sacajawea, and, though I am sure they would have interesting things to say, I would love to sit and just hear the voices of Edward R. Murrow and Orson Welles

    Reply
  39. I’m going all American here—
    Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, Abigail Adams, Louisa May Alcott, Sacajawea, and, though I am sure they would have interesting things to say, I would love to sit and just hear the voices of Edward R. Murrow and Orson Welles

    Reply
  40. I’m going all American here—
    Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, Abigail Adams, Louisa May Alcott, Sacajawea, and, though I am sure they would have interesting things to say, I would love to sit and just hear the voices of Edward R. Murrow and Orson Welles

    Reply
  41. What a very interesting post (as usual!).
    In addition to the luminaries already coming, I would like to bring Susan B. Anthony, Mary Oliver, e e cummings, the current Dali Lama and Queen Elizabeth I (I would love to pick her brain about succeeding in a man’s world!).
    And do we need more music? Tchaikovsky, Puccini, the Beatles, Pavarotti, Leonard Cohen (this list could go on and on…).

    Reply
  42. What a very interesting post (as usual!).
    In addition to the luminaries already coming, I would like to bring Susan B. Anthony, Mary Oliver, e e cummings, the current Dali Lama and Queen Elizabeth I (I would love to pick her brain about succeeding in a man’s world!).
    And do we need more music? Tchaikovsky, Puccini, the Beatles, Pavarotti, Leonard Cohen (this list could go on and on…).

    Reply
  43. What a very interesting post (as usual!).
    In addition to the luminaries already coming, I would like to bring Susan B. Anthony, Mary Oliver, e e cummings, the current Dali Lama and Queen Elizabeth I (I would love to pick her brain about succeeding in a man’s world!).
    And do we need more music? Tchaikovsky, Puccini, the Beatles, Pavarotti, Leonard Cohen (this list could go on and on…).

    Reply
  44. What a very interesting post (as usual!).
    In addition to the luminaries already coming, I would like to bring Susan B. Anthony, Mary Oliver, e e cummings, the current Dali Lama and Queen Elizabeth I (I would love to pick her brain about succeeding in a man’s world!).
    And do we need more music? Tchaikovsky, Puccini, the Beatles, Pavarotti, Leonard Cohen (this list could go on and on…).

    Reply
  45. What a very interesting post (as usual!).
    In addition to the luminaries already coming, I would like to bring Susan B. Anthony, Mary Oliver, e e cummings, the current Dali Lama and Queen Elizabeth I (I would love to pick her brain about succeeding in a man’s world!).
    And do we need more music? Tchaikovsky, Puccini, the Beatles, Pavarotti, Leonard Cohen (this list could go on and on…).

    Reply
  46. I think it may have something to do with the fact that a lot of them were gentleman enthusiasts rather than professionals too. Modern scientists and engineers have an education that is intensely focused, separates them out from the liberal arts early, and that often seems very driven by money, jobs, etc. A man in the 18thC/19thC with an independent income could explore whatever took his fancy. A man or woman supporting a family in the modern world doesn’t tend to have the kind of free time it takes to develop any other serious studies. Some people do (I know several engineers who are also serious musicians for example), but they’re pretty rare exceptions.

    Reply
  47. I think it may have something to do with the fact that a lot of them were gentleman enthusiasts rather than professionals too. Modern scientists and engineers have an education that is intensely focused, separates them out from the liberal arts early, and that often seems very driven by money, jobs, etc. A man in the 18thC/19thC with an independent income could explore whatever took his fancy. A man or woman supporting a family in the modern world doesn’t tend to have the kind of free time it takes to develop any other serious studies. Some people do (I know several engineers who are also serious musicians for example), but they’re pretty rare exceptions.

    Reply
  48. I think it may have something to do with the fact that a lot of them were gentleman enthusiasts rather than professionals too. Modern scientists and engineers have an education that is intensely focused, separates them out from the liberal arts early, and that often seems very driven by money, jobs, etc. A man in the 18thC/19thC with an independent income could explore whatever took his fancy. A man or woman supporting a family in the modern world doesn’t tend to have the kind of free time it takes to develop any other serious studies. Some people do (I know several engineers who are also serious musicians for example), but they’re pretty rare exceptions.

    Reply
  49. I think it may have something to do with the fact that a lot of them were gentleman enthusiasts rather than professionals too. Modern scientists and engineers have an education that is intensely focused, separates them out from the liberal arts early, and that often seems very driven by money, jobs, etc. A man in the 18thC/19thC with an independent income could explore whatever took his fancy. A man or woman supporting a family in the modern world doesn’t tend to have the kind of free time it takes to develop any other serious studies. Some people do (I know several engineers who are also serious musicians for example), but they’re pretty rare exceptions.

    Reply
  50. I think it may have something to do with the fact that a lot of them were gentleman enthusiasts rather than professionals too. Modern scientists and engineers have an education that is intensely focused, separates them out from the liberal arts early, and that often seems very driven by money, jobs, etc. A man in the 18thC/19thC with an independent income could explore whatever took his fancy. A man or woman supporting a family in the modern world doesn’t tend to have the kind of free time it takes to develop any other serious studies. Some people do (I know several engineers who are also serious musicians for example), but they’re pretty rare exceptions.

    Reply
  51. Donna, music is ALWAYS welcome, along with the scintillating conversation. I think we need to add Antoine Careme, the first celebrity chef, to come make dessert for everyone (He was a pretty interesting fellow in his own right.) And yes, more champagne is on order!

    Reply
  52. Donna, music is ALWAYS welcome, along with the scintillating conversation. I think we need to add Antoine Careme, the first celebrity chef, to come make dessert for everyone (He was a pretty interesting fellow in his own right.) And yes, more champagne is on order!

    Reply
  53. Donna, music is ALWAYS welcome, along with the scintillating conversation. I think we need to add Antoine Careme, the first celebrity chef, to come make dessert for everyone (He was a pretty interesting fellow in his own right.) And yes, more champagne is on order!

    Reply
  54. Donna, music is ALWAYS welcome, along with the scintillating conversation. I think we need to add Antoine Careme, the first celebrity chef, to come make dessert for everyone (He was a pretty interesting fellow in his own right.) And yes, more champagne is on order!

    Reply
  55. Donna, music is ALWAYS welcome, along with the scintillating conversation. I think we need to add Antoine Careme, the first celebrity chef, to come make dessert for everyone (He was a pretty interesting fellow in his own right.) And yes, more champagne is on order!

    Reply
  56. Isobel, that’s an excellent point. And the fact that “modern” science was so new—it was seen more as an art, as individual used their imagination to think of experiments to try. It was a tabula rasa, so fewer rules. The more they learned, the more disciplined and focused things became.
    Money was certainly a factor, as it is today. Given my druthers, I’d be an eternal student—I love learning new things. A friend has recently gotten me interested in physics, and I’d love to take some basic courses in the subject. But alas, so little time, so much to know.

    Reply
  57. Isobel, that’s an excellent point. And the fact that “modern” science was so new—it was seen more as an art, as individual used their imagination to think of experiments to try. It was a tabula rasa, so fewer rules. The more they learned, the more disciplined and focused things became.
    Money was certainly a factor, as it is today. Given my druthers, I’d be an eternal student—I love learning new things. A friend has recently gotten me interested in physics, and I’d love to take some basic courses in the subject. But alas, so little time, so much to know.

    Reply
  58. Isobel, that’s an excellent point. And the fact that “modern” science was so new—it was seen more as an art, as individual used their imagination to think of experiments to try. It was a tabula rasa, so fewer rules. The more they learned, the more disciplined and focused things became.
    Money was certainly a factor, as it is today. Given my druthers, I’d be an eternal student—I love learning new things. A friend has recently gotten me interested in physics, and I’d love to take some basic courses in the subject. But alas, so little time, so much to know.

    Reply
  59. Isobel, that’s an excellent point. And the fact that “modern” science was so new—it was seen more as an art, as individual used their imagination to think of experiments to try. It was a tabula rasa, so fewer rules. The more they learned, the more disciplined and focused things became.
    Money was certainly a factor, as it is today. Given my druthers, I’d be an eternal student—I love learning new things. A friend has recently gotten me interested in physics, and I’d love to take some basic courses in the subject. But alas, so little time, so much to know.

    Reply
  60. Isobel, that’s an excellent point. And the fact that “modern” science was so new—it was seen more as an art, as individual used their imagination to think of experiments to try. It was a tabula rasa, so fewer rules. The more they learned, the more disciplined and focused things became.
    Money was certainly a factor, as it is today. Given my druthers, I’d be an eternal student—I love learning new things. A friend has recently gotten me interested in physics, and I’d love to take some basic courses in the subject. But alas, so little time, so much to know.

    Reply
  61. I’m totally with you, Isobel! My fantasy is to go to Oxford and study “The Greats” Then maybe go back to college here and take some science courses to fill that yawing gap in my education. Ah, well. A girl can dream . . .because that’s all she can do on the income of a writer>

    Reply
  62. I’m totally with you, Isobel! My fantasy is to go to Oxford and study “The Greats” Then maybe go back to college here and take some science courses to fill that yawing gap in my education. Ah, well. A girl can dream . . .because that’s all she can do on the income of a writer>

    Reply
  63. I’m totally with you, Isobel! My fantasy is to go to Oxford and study “The Greats” Then maybe go back to college here and take some science courses to fill that yawing gap in my education. Ah, well. A girl can dream . . .because that’s all she can do on the income of a writer>

    Reply
  64. I’m totally with you, Isobel! My fantasy is to go to Oxford and study “The Greats” Then maybe go back to college here and take some science courses to fill that yawing gap in my education. Ah, well. A girl can dream . . .because that’s all she can do on the income of a writer>

    Reply
  65. I’m totally with you, Isobel! My fantasy is to go to Oxford and study “The Greats” Then maybe go back to college here and take some science courses to fill that yawing gap in my education. Ah, well. A girl can dream . . .because that’s all she can do on the income of a writer>

    Reply
  66. Isobel and Cara,
    I agree with your point that money is most likely the block for most folks to be able to pursue liberal arts outside of their jobs/careers. However, I work in an industry (Thoroughbred racing) where there are many extremely wealthy individuals, and not one that I know of pursues anything other than making more money!

    Reply
  67. Isobel and Cara,
    I agree with your point that money is most likely the block for most folks to be able to pursue liberal arts outside of their jobs/careers. However, I work in an industry (Thoroughbred racing) where there are many extremely wealthy individuals, and not one that I know of pursues anything other than making more money!

    Reply
  68. Isobel and Cara,
    I agree with your point that money is most likely the block for most folks to be able to pursue liberal arts outside of their jobs/careers. However, I work in an industry (Thoroughbred racing) where there are many extremely wealthy individuals, and not one that I know of pursues anything other than making more money!

    Reply
  69. Isobel and Cara,
    I agree with your point that money is most likely the block for most folks to be able to pursue liberal arts outside of their jobs/careers. However, I work in an industry (Thoroughbred racing) where there are many extremely wealthy individuals, and not one that I know of pursues anything other than making more money!

    Reply
  70. Isobel and Cara,
    I agree with your point that money is most likely the block for most folks to be able to pursue liberal arts outside of their jobs/careers. However, I work in an industry (Thoroughbred racing) where there are many extremely wealthy individuals, and not one that I know of pursues anything other than making more money!

    Reply
  71. I’d have Cary Grant, Jane Austen, JRR Tolkien, Barbara Mertz, Robert Heinlein and John Lennon, with Myrna Loy and my old boss Henry to keep things civilized. Henry was interested in everything and could hold a conversation with anyone. As a man of business, he could have taught them all a thing or two as well 🙂

    Reply
  72. I’d have Cary Grant, Jane Austen, JRR Tolkien, Barbara Mertz, Robert Heinlein and John Lennon, with Myrna Loy and my old boss Henry to keep things civilized. Henry was interested in everything and could hold a conversation with anyone. As a man of business, he could have taught them all a thing or two as well 🙂

    Reply
  73. I’d have Cary Grant, Jane Austen, JRR Tolkien, Barbara Mertz, Robert Heinlein and John Lennon, with Myrna Loy and my old boss Henry to keep things civilized. Henry was interested in everything and could hold a conversation with anyone. As a man of business, he could have taught them all a thing or two as well 🙂

    Reply
  74. I’d have Cary Grant, Jane Austen, JRR Tolkien, Barbara Mertz, Robert Heinlein and John Lennon, with Myrna Loy and my old boss Henry to keep things civilized. Henry was interested in everything and could hold a conversation with anyone. As a man of business, he could have taught them all a thing or two as well 🙂

    Reply
  75. I’d have Cary Grant, Jane Austen, JRR Tolkien, Barbara Mertz, Robert Heinlein and John Lennon, with Myrna Loy and my old boss Henry to keep things civilized. Henry was interested in everything and could hold a conversation with anyone. As a man of business, he could have taught them all a thing or two as well 🙂

    Reply
  76. Cara, in fairness, many of these folks donate generously to charity. But participating in arts and sciences like we’re talking about here, no.
    And oh dear! We forgot to invite Oscar Wilde!

    Reply
  77. Cara, in fairness, many of these folks donate generously to charity. But participating in arts and sciences like we’re talking about here, no.
    And oh dear! We forgot to invite Oscar Wilde!

    Reply
  78. Cara, in fairness, many of these folks donate generously to charity. But participating in arts and sciences like we’re talking about here, no.
    And oh dear! We forgot to invite Oscar Wilde!

    Reply
  79. Cara, in fairness, many of these folks donate generously to charity. But participating in arts and sciences like we’re talking about here, no.
    And oh dear! We forgot to invite Oscar Wilde!

    Reply
  80. Cara, in fairness, many of these folks donate generously to charity. But participating in arts and sciences like we’re talking about here, no.
    And oh dear! We forgot to invite Oscar Wilde!

    Reply
  81. Janice, that’s so wonderful that you mention Edith. You would have loved meeting her—she was an amazing lady.And would be the life of the party!
    Cary Grant ain’t bad either!And I love how Barbara Mertz is mentioned by a number of us. I shall miss her dearly. So many names great names have been mentioned . . .hard to believe I didn’t think of the Beatles or Oscar Wilde!

    Reply
  82. Janice, that’s so wonderful that you mention Edith. You would have loved meeting her—she was an amazing lady.And would be the life of the party!
    Cary Grant ain’t bad either!And I love how Barbara Mertz is mentioned by a number of us. I shall miss her dearly. So many names great names have been mentioned . . .hard to believe I didn’t think of the Beatles or Oscar Wilde!

    Reply
  83. Janice, that’s so wonderful that you mention Edith. You would have loved meeting her—she was an amazing lady.And would be the life of the party!
    Cary Grant ain’t bad either!And I love how Barbara Mertz is mentioned by a number of us. I shall miss her dearly. So many names great names have been mentioned . . .hard to believe I didn’t think of the Beatles or Oscar Wilde!

    Reply
  84. Janice, that’s so wonderful that you mention Edith. You would have loved meeting her—she was an amazing lady.And would be the life of the party!
    Cary Grant ain’t bad either!And I love how Barbara Mertz is mentioned by a number of us. I shall miss her dearly. So many names great names have been mentioned . . .hard to believe I didn’t think of the Beatles or Oscar Wilde!

    Reply
  85. Janice, that’s so wonderful that you mention Edith. You would have loved meeting her—she was an amazing lady.And would be the life of the party!
    Cary Grant ain’t bad either!And I love how Barbara Mertz is mentioned by a number of us. I shall miss her dearly. So many names great names have been mentioned . . .hard to believe I didn’t think of the Beatles or Oscar Wilde!

    Reply
  86. I really hope you pursue your book idea, Cara. I was reading Age of Wonder last year, and thinking that the sense of enchantment, competition, and intrigue would be excellent in a novel. There are a number of great love stories in the history of science.

    Reply
  87. I really hope you pursue your book idea, Cara. I was reading Age of Wonder last year, and thinking that the sense of enchantment, competition, and intrigue would be excellent in a novel. There are a number of great love stories in the history of science.

    Reply
  88. I really hope you pursue your book idea, Cara. I was reading Age of Wonder last year, and thinking that the sense of enchantment, competition, and intrigue would be excellent in a novel. There are a number of great love stories in the history of science.

    Reply
  89. I really hope you pursue your book idea, Cara. I was reading Age of Wonder last year, and thinking that the sense of enchantment, competition, and intrigue would be excellent in a novel. There are a number of great love stories in the history of science.

    Reply
  90. I really hope you pursue your book idea, Cara. I was reading Age of Wonder last year, and thinking that the sense of enchantment, competition, and intrigue would be excellent in a novel. There are a number of great love stories in the history of science.

    Reply
  91. A late entry, but I would love to meet Hedy Lamarr-she was known as a femme fatale actress, but she was quite an accomplished scientist-she invented a way of circumventing the radio signal jamming that was used by the Germans in WWII, and it’s still used for torpedoes today. I would stick with that era and also invite Roald Dahl, Eleanor Roosevelt, Marlene Dietrich, Dorothy Sayers, Winston Churchill, and Albert Einstein. I expect Einstein would be the life of the party.

    Reply
  92. A late entry, but I would love to meet Hedy Lamarr-she was known as a femme fatale actress, but she was quite an accomplished scientist-she invented a way of circumventing the radio signal jamming that was used by the Germans in WWII, and it’s still used for torpedoes today. I would stick with that era and also invite Roald Dahl, Eleanor Roosevelt, Marlene Dietrich, Dorothy Sayers, Winston Churchill, and Albert Einstein. I expect Einstein would be the life of the party.

    Reply
  93. A late entry, but I would love to meet Hedy Lamarr-she was known as a femme fatale actress, but she was quite an accomplished scientist-she invented a way of circumventing the radio signal jamming that was used by the Germans in WWII, and it’s still used for torpedoes today. I would stick with that era and also invite Roald Dahl, Eleanor Roosevelt, Marlene Dietrich, Dorothy Sayers, Winston Churchill, and Albert Einstein. I expect Einstein would be the life of the party.

    Reply
  94. A late entry, but I would love to meet Hedy Lamarr-she was known as a femme fatale actress, but she was quite an accomplished scientist-she invented a way of circumventing the radio signal jamming that was used by the Germans in WWII, and it’s still used for torpedoes today. I would stick with that era and also invite Roald Dahl, Eleanor Roosevelt, Marlene Dietrich, Dorothy Sayers, Winston Churchill, and Albert Einstein. I expect Einstein would be the life of the party.

    Reply
  95. A late entry, but I would love to meet Hedy Lamarr-she was known as a femme fatale actress, but she was quite an accomplished scientist-she invented a way of circumventing the radio signal jamming that was used by the Germans in WWII, and it’s still used for torpedoes today. I would stick with that era and also invite Roald Dahl, Eleanor Roosevelt, Marlene Dietrich, Dorothy Sayers, Winston Churchill, and Albert Einstein. I expect Einstein would be the life of the party.

    Reply
  96. Elmore Leonard, Mickey Spillane and living authors John Sanford and Bernard Cornwell at one table. The two Queens Elizabeth in armchairs with tea.

    Reply
  97. Elmore Leonard, Mickey Spillane and living authors John Sanford and Bernard Cornwell at one table. The two Queens Elizabeth in armchairs with tea.

    Reply
  98. Elmore Leonard, Mickey Spillane and living authors John Sanford and Bernard Cornwell at one table. The two Queens Elizabeth in armchairs with tea.

    Reply
  99. Elmore Leonard, Mickey Spillane and living authors John Sanford and Bernard Cornwell at one table. The two Queens Elizabeth in armchairs with tea.

    Reply
  100. Elmore Leonard, Mickey Spillane and living authors John Sanford and Bernard Cornwell at one table. The two Queens Elizabeth in armchairs with tea.

    Reply

Leave a Comment