Roger L. Emerson spent most of his career at the University of Western Ontario where he taught European and British social and intellectual history and is now an emeritus professor. An Associate Editor of the Oxford Encyclopeaedia of the Enlightenment(2002) he is also the author of: Professors, Patronage and Politics: The Aberdeen Universities in the Eighteenth Century (1992); Academic Patronage in the Scottish Enlightenment: Glasgow, Edinburgh and St Andrews Universities (2008); and Essays on David Hume, Medical Men and the Scottish Enlightenment:'Industry, Knowledge and Humanity' (2009).
'The core of Emerson's revisionist view of the Scottish Enlightenment has been in print in article form for some time, but it is satisfying to have it spelled out fully here in the context of Ilay's complex political, social, and intellectual life. Emerson loves lists, so there are no less than four substantial appendixes covering Ilay's record in the House of Lords, his library, his scientific models, and of his botanical transactions in an age of international plant hunting. There are also over a hundred pages of notes, plus a bibliography and two indexes, one devoted to Ilay. These tools make it easy to use the book. Barring the improbable rediscovery of Ilay's personal archive, this is likely to remain the definitive biography of a man who seems to have merited the title some contemporaries gave him as "the Great Duke of Argyll." This book is a fitting conclusion to decades of intensive research.' Bruce P. Lenman, Eighteenth-Century Life, Volume 39, Number 3, September 2015; .. a splendid new biography [which] makes a convincing case for the Duke as having a central role in promoting the Scottish Enlightenment, and, indeed, as a major Scottish figure of the eighteenth century.' Professor John Cairns 'The Scottish 18th century is a crowded place nowadays... [so] it is a something of a rare event for a major addition to be made to its pantheon of Great Scots. The great merit of Emerson's biography is to show the intimate connection [between] grubby day-to-day politicking and the glorious intellectual achievements of the Enlightenment. Emerson altogether makes of Scotland in that time a more real kind of place: a great achievement.' Michael Fry, The Scotsman, June 2013