John Babington was employed by the Earl of Newport, Master of His Majesty's Ordnance for King Charles I. This obviously gave him perfect access to the technologies of the day with respect to all manner of explosive materials. Although there had been previous books addressing pyrotechnics, the treatise produced by Babington on the subject in 1635 went much further than previous works and holds the distinction of being the first english study of fireworks in a recreational setting. [The latter part of the book deals with geometry]
In his Pyrotechnia, or a discourse of Artificiall Fire-works: In which the true Grounds of that Art are plainly and perspiciously laid downe, Babington "provided directions for making rockets, stars, wheels, and ground-wheels that were more explicit than any offered by previous writers. He was, however, at his best when describing the complex devices and intricate displays in which his age delighted. Some of the chapter headings indicate the ambitious nature of his efforts: The manner of composing a wheele, which having finished his revolution, shall represent a Coat of Armes; How to compose a Castle of Fireworks: How to represent Saint George fighting with a Dragon on the line; and How to make a Water Ball, which, after a certain time of firing, shall cast forth divers rockets into the ayre."
- Babington's Pyrotechnia, or a discourse of Artificiall Fire-works is online in its entirety at the (fabulous) ECHO Project website (European Cultural Heritage Online, hosted by the Max Planck Institute) as part of the Archimides Project.
- Science and Society's quick and abbreviated thumbnail set of images from Pyrotechnia.
- A short overview: War By Other Means: the Art and Science of Fireworks in Europe, 1500-1850.
- History of Fireworks and Gunpowder: a short essay.
- Brown University's Paul R Dupree collection of fireworks books exhibition.
- Wikipedia on fireworks.
- Pyrotechics Guild International.
- The new Gunpowder Plot: Parliament & Treason 1605 website about the Guy Fawkes episode.