In 1757, Benjamin Franklin returned to London after an over thirty-year absence. He first ventured to the imperial capital in 1724 to continue his education as a printer; he went back in the late 1750s as a politician, after being named the London agent for the Pennsylvania Assembly. Franklin took up residence at 36 Craven Street in London, today just down the way from Charing Cross Station, and right near Trafalgar Square. For nearly two decades, with a short return to Philadelphia in between, Franklin lived on Craven Street as he tried to advance colonial interests in the mother country.
On today’s episode, Dr. Márcia Balisciano joins Jim Ambuske from London to explore the Craven Street House that Franklin made a home. Dr. Balisciano is the Founding Director of the Benjamin Franklin House in London, the world’s only remaining Franklin home. And as you’ll hear, the historic site not only connects us to Franklin and his life, but to the era of the English Civil War in the 1640s, and to eighteenth-century secrets buried in the basement.
Be sure to stay tuned after the chat to hear our first listener voice message. We’ll feature your comments and questions on the show from time to time. Find out how you can submit one later in the program.
About Our Guest: Dr. Márcia Balisciano is Founding Director of the Benjamin Franklin House in London. She holds a Ph.D. in Economic History from The London School of Economics and Political Science. In addition to her duties at Franklin House, she is also Global Head of Corporate Responsibility at RELX, a multi-national information, analytics, and events company, and serves as Chair of the United Nations Global Compact Network in the UK.
About Our Host: Jim Ambuske, Ph.D. leads the Center for Digital History at the Washington Library. A historian of the American Revolution, Scotland, and the British Atlantic World, Ambuske graduated from the University of Virginia in 2016. He is a former Farmer Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities at the University of Virginia Law Library. At UVA Law, Ambuske co-directed the 1828 Catalogue Project and the Scottish Court of Session Project. He is currently at work on a book about emigration from Scotland in the era of the American Revolution as well as a chapter on Scottish loyalism during the American Revolution for a volume to be published by the University of Edinburgh Press.