A quiet biography of Humphry Davy is a demonstration of worldly achievement- assiduously and deliberately attained, begins with his boyhood in Penzance and an indifferent schooling which left him free to talk to local mine captains and inventors, and to exercise his fine powers of observation and reflection. Poverty put him to work at 15 as an apprentice to a doctor; on the side he experimented in chemistry, then became the protege of an unorthodox professor. His experiments with laughing gas should have formed the basis for anesthesia- but were ignored. However success was not slow to follow, and his lectures, experiments and discoveries brought him fame by his early thirties, helped him to make a wealthy marriage, led to his most famous discovery of the safety lamp. If not a dynamic figure, his story is an encouraging one- and is recorded for older readers in this age group and younger ones in the next.