Author: Anton Howes
From its beginnings in a coffee house in the mid-18th century, the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce has tried to improve British life in every way imaginable.
It has sought to influence how Britons work, how they are educated, the music they listen to, the food they eat, the items in their homes, and even how they remember their own history. Arts and Minds is the remarkable story of an institution unlike any other—a society for the improvement of everything and anything.
Drawing on exclusive access to a wealth of rare papers and artifacts from the Society’s own archives, Anton Howes shows how this vibrant and singularly ambitious organization has evolved and adapted, constantly having to reinvent itself to keep in step with changing times.
The Society has served as a platform for Victorian utilitarian reformers, purchased and restored an entire village, encouraged the planting of more than 60 million trees, and sought technological alternatives to child labor. But this is more than just a story about unusual public initiatives.