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The Reconstructed Libraries of European Scholars, 1450-1700
Series One: The Books and Manuscripts of John Dee, 1527-1608

Part 7: John Dee's Manuscripts and Annotated Books from the British Library, London

Parts 7 & 8 come from The British Library, which holds the greatest surviving number of manuscripts formerly held in John Dee’s library. Many were purchased after Dee’s death by Robert Cotton and Simonds D’Ewes, who knew the value of his texts.  There are 118 manuscripts in total, covering topics as wide ranging as astrology, astronomy, history, geography, mathematics, medicine, music, natural history, navigation and theology, including:

  • John Dee's account of his life (MS Cotton Vitellius C VII), together with works on perspective and discoveries in East Asia.
  • the 1557 catalogue of Dee’s library (Add Ms 35213)
  • unpublished pamphlets by Dee on sovereignty and empire (Add Ms 59681)
  • A discourse by Dee on Drake’s voyage to the Straits of Magellan 
  • Boethius’s De Institutione Musica (12th century, Ms Royal 15 B IX)
  • The Tollemache Orosius (a 10th century Anglo-Saxon translation attributed to  Alfred the Great, Add Ms 47967)
  • Geber’s Turba philosophorum and Bacon’s Speculum Alchemiae
  • The Book of Enoch and De heptarchia mystica, on angelic communication 

With the completion of Part 8 we will have covered 258 (69%) out of the 368 manuscripts known to have been in Dee’s Library and 218 (76%) of the 288 printed works known to have been Dee’s books.  The result is a magnificent resource for Renaissance studies.

"The whole Renaissance is in this Library."
Frances Yates.

Digital Guide
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