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

Part 8: 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:

  • Aristotle’s Secreta secretorum (Sloane Ms 59);
  • A collection of works on alchemy and the philosopher’s stone (Stowe Ms 1070);
  • Unpublished treatises by Dee on sovereignty and empire dated c1593 and entitled 'Brytannici Imperii Limites' (Add Mss 59681);
  • Geber’s Turba philosophorum and Bacon’s Speculum Alchemiae (Sloane Ms 2325);
  • The Book of Enoch (Sloane Ms 2599);
  • Mysteriorum libri, an account of spiritual conferences at Mortlake (Sloane Ms 3188);
  • De heptarchia mystica, a key text relating to the occult (Sloane Ms 3191).

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.



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