William Smith and his map that changed the world: An evening with Simon Winchester

14 October 2015, 7.00 PM - 14 October 2015, 8.00 PM

Simon Winchester

Wills Memorial Building, Queen's Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 1RJ

Simon Winchester is a writer, journalist and broadcaster. He grew up in Dorset and went on to study geology at St. Catherine's College in Oxford from where he graduated in 1966. His book The Map That Changed The World tells the story of William Smith's life, his obsession to create the world’s first geological map and how he ultimately became the father of modern geology. Simon Winchester was named Britain’s Journalist of the Year in 1971 for his work as a journalist in Ireland. 


This event is free and open to all but you must register here. This event runs from 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm.


This event is part of the William Smith Bicentenary Lecture Series.

William Smith was a farmer's son. Born in 1769 his life was beset by troubles: he was imprisoned for debt, turned out of his home, his work was plagiarised, his wife went insane and the scientific establishment shunned him. In 1815 William Smith published the first edition of his Geological Map of England and Wales. Smith’s map made a seminal contribution to the understanding of the ground beneath our feet and by showing the location of coal, iron ore, clays and other raw materials quite literally fuelled the industrial revolution. By using fossils Smith was able to establish a relative chronology which allowed him to identify strata of the same age and to show where they occur at the surface. It was not until 1829, when a Yorkshire aristocrat recognised his genius, that he was returned to London in triumph.

In his centenary history of the Geological Society, Horace B Woodward, (1908) describes the map as “a work of genius planned and executed single handed” and it would be remiss if the bicentenary of its publication passed unnoticed. This lecture is part of a year-long programme of events celebrating this milestone.

Edit this page