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Joseph Priestley

Joseph Priestley, 1733-1804, English radical dissenting minister and chemist.

Priestley, one of the most important chemists of the later eighteenth century, is best known for being one of the discoverers of oxygen; he also wrote A History of Electricity (1767) with the help of Benjamin Franklin.

In 1774, Priestley visited Lavoisier in Paris to explain his discovery of "dephlogisticated air." It was up to Lavoisier to understand the significance of his discovery; Priestley had isolated oxygen from air, although he remained firmly convinced of the traditional phlogiston theory of matter until his death. Priestley was a member of the Birmingham Lunar Society, along with Erasmus Darwin; his association with the Society brought him into contact with the work of David Hartley.

Wollstonecraft refers to A Description of a Chart of Biography (London, 1785).