The clay that bound the Industrial Revolution
|A plate from the "Frog" service created by Wedgwood for|
Empress Catherine the Great. Now in the Hermitage Museum.
Unable to source suitable clay from the UK, Wedgwood traded with the Cherokee nation, who had a good supply of perfect white clay that would be used for an enormous dinner service commissioned by Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia. Wedgwood's nephew, Tom, was working in America as a rather unsuccessful actor, and on the eve of the American War of Independence went to meet the Cherokee. This sets up a fascinating insight into the rival loyalties of the settlers, the British, and the native Americans; issues that would continue to be of vital importance long post-Independence.
|Wedgwood anti-slavery medallion|
Entrancingly written, slyly blurring the lines of fact and fiction, this is a fascinating novel about an extraordinary era, and a family who embraced the modernity of their world. Five stars.