Notices and Events: Davy’s Notebooks Project

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Dear all, 

We have a number of important things to tell you about. Firstly, I’m writing partly to urge you to please continue to transcribe Davy’s Notebooks. We are supposed to get everything done and online by the beginning of next year, but there’s still so much to do. Transcription rates seem to be slowing down and we still have about 1000 pages to transcribe. Please do as much as you can to get us over the finish line on time and encourage others to help too! 

Secondly, we have substantially revised and updated our online course on Humphry Davy and will run it again, with a start date of Monday 9th October 2023. You can enrol here:

We’ve developed the course to include some of the findings that we’ve made during the last few years on the Davy Notebooks Project. This course will tell you about Davy’s life and career and give you some context to any transcription that you’ve been doing on the project (it may also be of interest to students, family, friends, etc etc).

The course has weeks on: Davy’s life and his historical times; his chemical experiments and lectures in the Royal Institution (we even recreated one of his spectacular demonstrations of how he thought a volcano worked!); the links between Davy, the Romantic poets (including William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge), and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, as well as some of Davy’s own poetry; the miners’ safety lamp he invented; and it closes with a week that thinks again about Davy’s legacy. 

The course is free and open to all. If you’ve done it before, you’ll hopefully enjoy the new material that we’ve included. There are some new steps, new activities, and lots of new resources which the project team have created over the past few years including online talks, articles, and blog posts. We’re hoping to show you some new aspects to Davy, including recently transcribed poems, some of the sketches found in his notebooks, first-hand accounts of Davy in the laboratory at the Royal Institution performing some of his most famous experiments, and evidence of his links to transatlantic slavery. 

As ever, you can do as much or as little of the course as you choose and take it at your own pace. That said, we’ll start each new week on the Monday and sum up on the Friday. Someone from the project team will be available every day to respond to your queries and help moderate the discussion.  

And, finally, the Davy Notebooks exhibition has opened at the Royal Institution in London in the building where the famous early nineteenth-century chemist Sir Humphry Davy worked and lectured in Albemarle Street in London from 1801-12.  

The exhibition is at the Royal Institution until Friday 3 November 2023. It will move to Northumberland County Hall from Wednesday 8 November 2023 to Friday 12 January 2024. The final destination is the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere, where it will be installed from Tuesday 16th January 2024 to Saturday 23rd March 2024. The exhibition showcases a number of original Davy manuscripts and focuses on his lectures, geology, chemistry, and links with the slave trade, his poetry and the miners’ safety lamp known as the Davy lamp.  

There are a number of activities associated with the exhibition, including teaching resources for schools, a talk at Northumberland County Hall on the 15th November, a Davy Poetry Reading Workshop in Morpeth Library on January 11th, and a webinar for the Wordsworth Trust on 25th January. For more details, follow us on social media (@davynotebooks) or email And please do some transcription for us at!

All best,

Sharon Ruston

The Davy Notebooks Project Team

17 September 2023