Edmund Rack, a Quaker, moved to Bath from rural Essex in 1775. A writer himself, he was soon active in Bath literary circles and in 1777 he founded and became secretary of the Bath & West of England Society.
Two years later he became joint founder and secretary of a lively scientific club, the first Bath Philosophical Society. He seems to have been self-confident, popular, charitable, and steadfast in his Quaker principles, a figure from Bath’s past it would have been good to know.
The 'Journal' is in fact a series of letters sent to his relatives at ‘Old Samford’, now Great Sampford in north-west Essex, between December 1779 and March 1780. It is an intriguing mix: partly a record of Rack’s own day-to-day activities, partly his musings on religion, morality, and other weighty matters, and partly a commentary on life in Georgian Bath – from a scandalous duel on Claverton Down or a performance of Handel’s Messiah to the cost of provisions. Because he was such a busy person, always eager for knowledge, and appreciative of the opportunities of Bath, he is constantly illuminating.