The Potter’s Hand by A N Wilson - review by Patrick Skene Catling

Patrick Skene Catling

Old China Hands

The Potter’s Hand


Atlantic Books 505pp £17.99

The prolific and versatile A N Wilson has written an old-fashioned family saga that is ‘meant to be read as fiction’, he says, ‘even though it is intended, in part, as an act of homage to one of the great men of our history’. That man was the master potter who founded the industrial dynasty Josiah Wedgwood & Sons, of which the author’s father was a managing director. Before Josiah established his pottery in Burslem, England used to eat off pewter and wooden platters; since then, the tableware has become finer. 

The story is a collaborative product of Wilson the biographer and Wilson the novelist. It displays the most important aspects of English political, economic, intellectual and social development late in the 18th century and early in the 19th, in a plot constructed as neatly and elegantly as a chair by

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