Happy 300th Birthday, Ben Franklin!
This day marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Franklin.
Franklin is perhaps the most remarkable figure in American history: the greatest statesman of his age, he played a pivotal role in the formation of the American republic. He was also a pioneering scientist, a bestselling author, the country’s first postmaster general, a printer, a bon vivant, a diplomat, a ladies’ man, a moralist, and the most prominent celebrity of the eighteenth century. His influence on every aspect of American life is still felt today.
His tercentenary is being commemorated in lavish style by the traveling exhibition, Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World , which is currently on display at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. The book that accompanies the exhibition, published by Yale University Press, contains essays covering the full range of Franklin’s interests and achievements and is illustrated by more than 265 color images, many of which have never been exhibited, including portraits, manuscripts, drawings, maps, paintings, engravings, and a number of Franklin’s possessions, from teacups to printing equipment.
Listen to an NPR interview with Page Talbott, associate director of the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary, and chief curator and editor of the Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World exhibit and book.
Franklin was a prolific author who corresponded with an astonishing range of men and women of all classes and nearly all professions in America, Great Britain, and Europe. The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, a collaborative project by a team of scholars at Yale University, has taken on the monumental task of collecting and editing his entire literary corpus, comprising approximately 30,000 extant papers. Published by Yale University Press, The Papers of Benjamin Franklin series so far includes thirty-seven of a projected forty-seven volumes.
Hailed as “The best short biography of Franklin ever written,” Edmund S. Morgan’s Benjamin Franklin is also published by Yale University Press. This best-selling book offers a compact and provocative portrait of Franklin as a man of vast contradictions. Unraveling the enigma of Franklin’s character, Morgan shows that he was the rare individual who consistently placed the public interest before his own desires.
Yale University Press also publishes the authoritative edition of The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. With a foreword written by Edmund Morgan, this edition of the autobiography, prepared by the editors of The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, is drawn with scrupulous care from the original manuscript in Franklin’s handwriting now in the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery.
In My Life with Benjamin Franklin, Claude-Anne Lopez, the doyenne of Franklin scholars and for many years an editor of The Papers of Benjamin Franklin , conveys Franklin’s humor, resiliency, courage, intelligence, and his faith in a better future in a collection of incidental pieces that reveal little-known aspects of the life and personality of Benjamin Franklin.
Yale University Press is proud to serve as publisher for so many important writings both by and about Benjamin Franklin, the most extraordinary and beloved of American patriots.