Science and philanthropy meet in the Royal Society of Arts

What does Jony Ive, the designer of Apple’s iPhone, have in common with Peter Perez Burdett, the first Englishman to produce aquatints, and Ann Williams, a postmistress who bred silkworms at her home in 18th-century Gravesend? The answer is that they all received awards from the institution known today as the Royal Society of Arts. Ive bagged a £500 travel bursary for creating a futuristic telephone nicknamed the Orator; Burdett earned £100 for a detailed map of Derbyshire; and Williams collected a 20-guinea prize for her observations about the lepidoptera she mistakenly called ‘dear little innocent reptiles’. As Anton Howes demonstrates in this lucid and scrupulously researched history, such bounty