John Aubrey and the World of Seventeenth Century Celebrity
Dr Fiona McCall
Autumn 2012
Reading List
Editions of Brief Lives
Aubrey’s Brief Lives were never published in Aubrey’s own lifetime; they survived only as
manuscript copies deposited by Aubrey himself for safe-keeping in the Ashmolean Museum.
There is no standard text, and different editors have made their own selections from Aubrey’s
manuscript collections, often adding choice morsels from Aubrey’s other manuscripts.
Clark, Andrew (ed.), 'Brief lives’, chiefly of contemporaries (1898), available to read online
at http://archive.org/stream/brieflives01clargoog#page/n12/mode/2up (vol. 1) and
http://archive.org/stream/brieflives00clargoog#page/n12/mode/2up (vol. 2)
The most complete text, barring the expurgation of a small amount of material likely to
offend Victorian tastes. Not necessarily the easiest to read but is available for free online.
Dick, Oliver Lawson (ed.), Aubrey’s Brief Lives
The standard popular text, with an excellent introduction quoting liberally from Aubrey’s
other manusctripts. Includes useful short biographies of the subjects as well as what Aubrey
wrote about them.
Powell, Anthony (ed.), Brief lives, and other selected writings
Also good; fewer lives included but arranged thematically, as we will do in this class.
Barber, Richard (ed.), Brief Lives (Totowa, NJ, 1983)
A modern language edition of the lives. Described as ‘unhappy’ in one review! Perhaps best
avoided, unless you are struggling with the language.
Kate Bennett (University of Oxford) is currently preparing a new critical edition of Brief
Lives. She is also involved, along with Rhodri Lewis and Will Poole, also at the University of
Oxford, in preparing a 4 volume scholarly edition of Aubrey’s letters. See the Cultures of
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Knowledge website: at http://cofk.history.ox.ac.uk/projects/john-aubrey/ where you can
search a database of seventeenth century correspondence.
Aubrey’s other writings
Miscellanies, (London 1721), http://www.gutenberg.org
The only work Aubrey published in his own lifetime, it concerns supernatural manifestations.
Lawson Dick quotes liberally from this in his introduction.
Remaines of Gentilisme and Judaisme, ed. J. Brittain (London, 1881)
http://archive.org/details/remainesgentili01aubrgoog
Aubrey’s unpublished collection of material on folklore and customs.
The Natural History of Wiltshire by John Aubrey (London 1847; New
York 1969), http://www.gutenberg.org
One of the works on which Aubrey’s reputation as an antiquary and archaeologist rests.
John Aubrey’s Life and Work
Powell, Anthony, John Aubrey and his Friends
As you might expect from this well-known author, a very readable and accessible biography
of Aubrey. Contains useful sections on Aubrey’s friends and a list of all his publications.
Hunter, Michael, John Aubrey and the Realm of Learning (London, 1975)
An excellent book, concentrating on Aubrey’s contribution to the intellectual developments
of the seventeenth century.
Kate Bennett (see above) is also interested in furthering the rediscovery of Aubrey’s
reputation. See http://royalsociety.org/events/2011/john-aubrey/ for an excellent audio
podcast of a lecture on John Aubrey she gave recently to the Royal Society.
John Aubrey and the Development of Experimental Science, Online Exhibition,
http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/about/exhibitions/online/aubrey
Baume, Maurice, Two Antiquaries: A selection from the correspondence of John Aubrey and
Anthony Wood (Edinburgh, 2001)
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‘Wiltshire: the topographical collections of John Aubrey’, ed. J. E. Jackson, Wiltshire
Archaeological and Natural History Society, 1 (1862)
Biography
The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography can be searched from the University of Oxford
library OXLIP website on computers in Ewert House and in the Continuing Education
Library
The Early English Books Database (EEBO). If you are interested in reading the published
works of one of Aubrey’s subjects. e.g. Hobbes, Leviathan, Hooke, Micrographia
seventeenth century published editions will be available to download from this database, also
searchable via OXLIP at Ewert House nd in the Continuing Education Library.
Clark, A., The Life and Times of Anthony Wood, Oxford (1891), 5 vols
http://archive.org/details/lifeandtimesant00clargoog
The diary and writings of Aubrey’s erstwhile friend and collaborator on the Brief Lives.
Anderson, Judith H., Biographical Truth: The Representation of Historical Persons in TudorStuart Writing (New Haven, 1984)
Stauffer, Donald, English Biography Before 1700 (Cambridge, Mass, 1930)
Wendorf, R., The elements of life: biography and portrait-painting in Stuart and Georgian
England (Oxford, 1990)
The Seventeenth Century in General
Hutton, R., The Restoration (Oxford, 1986)
Coward, B., The Stuart Age: England 1603-1714 (4th Edition, 2011)
Wormald, J. (ed.), The Seventeenth Century, (Oxford, 2008)
Seventeenth Century Art and Culture
Ashley, Maurice, The Golden Century: Europe, 1598-1715 (London)
Foskett, Daphne, Samuel Cooper and his Contemporaries (London, 1974)
Healy, T., Sawday, T., Literature and the English Civil War (Cambridge, 1990)
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Keeble, N.H. (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Writing of the English Revolution
(Cambridge, 2001)
Parry, Graham, The Seventeenth Century: the Intellectual and Cultural Context of English
literature, 1603-1700 (London, 1989)
Smith, Nigel, Literature and the English Civil War (New Haven, 1992)
Strong, Roy, The Spirit of Britain: a Narrative History of the Arts (London, 2000) – excellent
on the visual arts, but there are occasional factual errors (e.g. lumping Thomas Traherne, who
was only born in 1637, with the cavalier poets!)
The Supernatural
Thomas, Keith, Religion and the Decline of Magic (London, 1971) – a classic work
William Lilly’s history of his own times: from the year 1602 to 1681 (London, 1715)
http://archive.org/details/williamlillyshis00lill
Walsham, A., Providence in Early Modern England (Oxford, 2001)
Seventeenth Century Science
Spratt, T., History of the Royal Society (1667)
http://archive.org/details/historyroyalsoc00martgoog
Royal Society Website at http://royalsociety.org/about-us/history/1600s/ includes a timeline
and articles on some of their most famous early experiments.
Gribbin, J., The Fellowship: The Story of a Revolution (London, 2005) – excellent, readable
account of the development of science in 17th century England, with clear explanations of the
science as well as interesting accounts of the lives of Bacon, Harvey, Hooke and others.
Seventeenth Century Antiquarianism
Currie, C.R.J., Lewis, C.P., A Guide to English County Histories (Stroud, 1997)
Woolf, Daniel, The Social Circulation of the Past (Oxford, 2003)
Woolf, Daniel, ‘The Common Voice: History, Folklore and Oral Tradition in Early Modern
England’, Past and Present 120 (1988), pp. 26-52
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Readings from Aubrey Week by Week
Week 2: Literary Anecdotes
Read lives of Milton, Erasmus, Thomas More, Walter Raleigh and (if you have time)
Aubrey’s longer biography of his friend the philosopher Thomas Hobbes.
Week 3: the Supernatural
Read lives of John Dee, the Duke of Buckingham and William Oughtred.
Week 4: Science
Read lives of Sir Frances Bacon, Sir William Petty, Francis Potter and Robert Hooke
Week 5: Doctors and Lawyers
Read lives of William Harvey, William Butler, Sir Edward Coke and John Selden
Week 6: Commerce and Exploration
Read lives of Walter Raleigh, the Earl of Cumberland, Thomas Stump and Thomas Chaloner.
Week 7: The Civil War and the Interregnum
Read lives of David Jenkins, Lord Falkland, James Harrington and General Monck
Week 8: Religion
Read lives of Lancelot Andrews, Richard Corbet, William Chillingworth, Seth Ward,
William Prynne and William Penn
Week 9: Women and Society, Aubrey’s friends
Read lives of Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, Elizabeth Broughton, Venetia Digby,
Katherine Philips, Mary, Countess of Warwick and Edward Davenant
Week 10: Antiquarianism
Read lives of William Camden, Henry Spelman, Thomas Stampe and Silas Taylor and ‘The
Olden Time’ (if you have the Powell edition).
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O12P671LHW John Aubrey student reading list