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“King of all Balloons”

“King of all Balloons” : the Aventurous Life of James Sadler, first English Aeronaut.

Cover 2018

The first biography of the Oxford pastry cook who became the unlikely first Englishman to build and fly a hot-air balloon, in Oxford in 1784. Sadler was also an engineer, chemist (to the Navy during the Napoloenic wars), inventor of armaments, and a manufacturer. He returned to ballooning at the age of 57 in 1810, and was predeceased by his son Windham, himself the first man to fly across the Irish Sea, who died in a tragic ballooning accident in 1824. The book was published in hardback (rrp £20) by Amberley Publishing in 2015, and is also available in paperback (rrp £9.99):


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Country Life: 6 January 2016: “Mark Davies has done the nation – Oxford University in particular – a service by reconstructing the life and achievements of the first English balloonist.”

 Ballooning (newsletter of the Balloon Federation of America): “It is … important we remember the earliest pioneers of [ballooning] and Davies has contributed mightily to that effort.” “With this book, ‘King of all Balloons’, Oxford historian Mark Davies fills a void.”

Times Literary Supplement 22 July 2016: “Davies’s story takes its place in greater cultural narratives about public spectacle in the age of scientific wonders.” “Davies’s admirable aim is to redress history’s disregard.”

Aerospace September 2016 [Royal Aeronautical Society magazine]: “Davies restores Sadler to full view, with a carefully researched account of his varied and interesting achievements.” “A very readable and thoughtful account of an important inventor and adventurer.”

Aviation Historian [No 16]: “A biography of the Oxford balloonist James Sadler was long overdue, but the omission is now solved with a vengeance.” “Entertaining insight into the behaviour and mannerisms of those eventful days.”

How it Works, May 2016: “A fascinating read, cleverly reconstructed, with input from all kinds of sources.”

See also: shepherd.com/book/king-of-all-balloons


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