SUNBURY — Sunbury Press has released a new edition of the "Memoirs of Dr. Joseph Priestley," the Friends of the Joseph Priestley House announced. The organization plans to introduce the book during Oxygen Day festivities Sunday, Aug. 1, at Priestley House.
Originally published in Northumberland in 1806, the book chronicles Priestley’s life from his birth from his 1733 birth in Yorkshire, England, to his 1804 death in Northumberland. The new volume is a 246-page paperback. Its cover features an 1801 portrait of Priestley painted by Rembrandt Peale.
Priestley wrote the sections covering his early life through 1795. When he died without completing the book, his son, Joseph Priestley Jr., finished it. The son drew heavily on material that his father had written about events in England that had prompted the family to emigrate to the United States in 1794.
The Priestleys settled in Northumberland and built the residence where Priestley lived during his final years. Today, the house is a museum operated by the nonprofit Friends organization.
Priestley is best remembered for discovering oxygen while living in England in 1774. He was also a clergyman, author, historian and political theorist.
The American Chemical Society credits him with two significant inventions — carbonated water and the rubber eraser.
"Memoirs" tell how, as a young man, Priestley developed friendships with influential scientists including Benjamin Franklin, who provided Priestley with information for his 1767 book, "The History and Present State of Electricity."
The book’s publication represents a multi-year effort by the Friends to acquaint 21st century readers with one of the greatest minds of the 18th century. Copies will be available in the gift shop at Priestley House, as well as online.
This edition also includes a Biographical Guide that lists more than 220 individuals mentioned in the text. These individuals include members of Priestley’s family as well as his friends, employers, colleagues, benefactors, scientists, political leaders, critics and foes.
The edition is dedicated to the late Thomas P. Bresenhan, a Lewisburg man who spearheaded production of the volume over a five-year period. In 2016, Bresenhan visited places in England where Priestley had lived and worked.
The Joseph Priestley House is located at 472 Priestley Ave., Northumberland.