The enthralling biography of the shepherd boy who changed the world with his revolutionary engineering and whose genius we still benefit from today
Thomas Telford's name is familiar; his story less so. Born in 1757 in the Scottish Borders, his father died in his infancy, plunging the family into poverty. Telford's life soared to span almost eight decades of gloriously obsessive, prodigiously productive energy. Few people have done more to shape our nation.
Thomas Telford invented the modern road. A stonemason turned architect turned engineer, he built churches, harbours, canals, docks and the famously vertiginous Pontcysyllte aqueduct in Wales. He created the backbone of our national road network. His bridges are some of the most dramatic and beautiful ever built, most of all the Menai Bridge, a wonder then and now, which spans the dangerous channel between the mainland and Anglesey. His constructions were the most stupendous in Europe for a thousand years, and – astonishingly – almost everything he ever built remains in use today.
Telford was a complex man: a shepherd's boy who loved the countryside but helped industrialise it; an ambitious man who cared little for accolades; highly sociable and charming, but peculiarly private about his personal life; and an engineer who was also a poet. He cherished a vision of a country connected to transform mobility and commerce: his radical politics lay not in ideas but the creation of useful, solid things.
In an age in which economics, engineering and national identity came together, Thomas Telford's life was a model of what can be achieved by persistence, skill and ambition. Drawing on contemporary accounts, this, the first full modern biography of Telford, at once intimate and expansive, is an utterly original portrait. It is a book of roads and landscapes, waterways and bridges, but above all, of how one man transformed himself into the greatest engineer Britain has ever produced.
About the Author
Julian Glover is a journalist, speechwriter and special adviser. Previously a columnist for the Guardian, in 2011 he was appointed chief speechwriter to David Cameron before in 2012 being made special adviser in the UK Department for Transport. He is married to The Times columnist and former Conservative MP Matthew Parris.
A biography of great verve ... brings back to vivid life a man who should never have been forgotten -- Andrew Marr 'Glover has done detailed research and any other author will struggle to improve on his life of Telford ... Man of Iron is a competent, interesting book about an engineer whose star ... deserves to shine a little brighter' -- Simon Heffer Daily Telegraph 'An evocative biography of Britain's greatest civil engineer ... An evocative telling of an interesting life, an account that has lots to admire ... Glover catches the thrill of Telford's engineering quite beautifully' Guardian 'A strikingly clear portrait of the man who helped shape Britain. ... A beautifully-written biography, reading almost as a work of classic literature' Engineering & Technology 'Vivid, enthusiastic ... Glover makes an enormously readable and persuasive case for Telford's importance in our national story' -- Dominic Sandbrook Sunday Times 'Astonishing and inspiring ... Mixing effortless prose with genuine insight has produced an immersive biography that proves hard to put down ... The story of Thomas Telford is the story of modern Britain, and never has it been so well told' BBC Countryfile 'Glover has sailed across Telford's aqueducts, walked his towpaths and tracked down his most obscure Scottish bridges [and his] dedication ... has paid off' -- Harry Mount Spectator 'Absorbing ... [Glover's] clear, concise style gives the plain-speaking Telford ... a fitting literary treatment' Observer 'Glover has ... been digging in the archives with Telfordian energy to produce a readable book about an overlooked man' -- Damian Whitworth The Times 'This is a fine biography of a man of outstanding genius' Who Do You Think You Are? An engaging new biography which celebrates the achievements of the Borders boy who invented the modern road Sunday Post [Glover] has avoided hagiography in this engaging, evocative and very readable tale Financial Times He paints a vivid picture of a man who was at once massively gifted, restless, ambitious, arrogant and utterly relentless in pursuit of his projects ... A superb biography. Lengthy but rewarding, it sets Telford in the clash, clamour, stink and roar of Britain in the Georgian era Herald
Number Of Pages: 448
Published: 28th March 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 24.2 x 16.6 x 3.8
Weight (kg): 0.83
Edition Number: 1