04 September 2018

Book Review: Who was Ingen Housz Anyway? by Norman and Elaine Beale

This short book is a wonderful introduction to the life and times of Jan Ingen Housz.

While the main body of the book is only 36 pages, the authors have packed in a great deal of information and interesting illustrations and photographs. Beginning with the origin of the Ingen Housz surname along with Jan's birth and situation, the book progresses with Ingen Housz's rise as a smallpox inoculator and the lifelong friends he makes along the way.

From being headhunted by royalty for his expertise in innoculation to eventually self-exiling himself back in England during the time of revolution - and violence - on the continent, this man had a colourful life. But that's just some of what happened to him, not the things he did.

The book goes on to explain the experiments that are the foundation of what we understand about photosynthesis and the role of carbon dioxide in the creation of organic matter.

The book concludes with the memorial in St. Mary's Church in Calne that occurred in 1956 and describes the plaque placed there in Ingen Housz's honour.

I really enjoyed reading this book, it was long enough to get across a lot of information, but not so long as to get bogged down in too much detail.

I don't know if the book is still available for purchase, but at £4 a copy with the proceeds going towards the upkeep of St. Mary's Church, Calne, it's definitely worth buying. Otherwise, it's available to loan from Wiltshire library.


  1. Good to hear from you! I hope things are going well.

    1. Thanks Hollis. It's been a busy year and I'm currently waiting for my overdue child to arrive! I hope you're well.


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