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IN SEARCH OF SIR THOMAS BROWNE
Bibliophile price: £6.00
Writer, physician, philosopher - Sir Thomas Browne was a master of arts and cited as an inspiration for great artists, from Ralph Waldo Emerson and Jorge Luis Borges, to Virginia Woolf and Stephen Jay Gould. As the figure responsible for words such as hallucination, electricity and suicide, and trained at the best European schools of anatomy and medicine, he was also acclaimed as a Christian moralist, a naturalist, an antiquarian, an experimenter and a myth-buster. Hugh Aldersey-Williams himself is the perfect person to recount the life of Browne, not only an inhabitant of Norfolk, but an author of Anatomies, Periodic Tables, and The Most Beautiful Molecule, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He is as passionate about the correlations between science and nature, as about the Norfolk countryside he resides in - as Browne was. Discover how this man of thought and science applied his knowledge during some of the most pivotal events of the century, for example, speaking of the natural afflictions of two girls, supposedly victims of witchery, during a trial of the two alleged witches, claiming that the fits and other symptoms exhibited by the children were natural, adding as an afterthought that this very naturalness was evidence of the devil's 'subtilty', the controlling force of the perpetrators' actions. Discover the botanist side of Sir Thomas Browne who contributed to the study of flora including mandrake, which was originally believed to shriek as it was seized from the ground, liquorice, used to treat indigestion, and asparagus, which was prescribed for lust and is still assumed to be an aphrodisiac to this day, and admire his simple philosophies, such as Browne's take on "never go to bed angry". Aldersey-Williams presents Browne's many observations of animals including how moles seek the air when they die while humans are buried in the earth, his debunking of the myth that badgers possess one side shorter than the other, and how he saves a stork from dying after it is shot near Happisburgh in 1668 by feeding it snails and frogs and draws pictures of it to send to his daughter Elizabeth. The element of the outsider is compared to contemporary cases such as the hearing of the Grillo sisters who were brought to trial for allegedly using credit cards for work for their own gain, but he also considers the geography of Browne's life, starting in his Prologue with his journey to Norwich from Bury St Edmunds on foot mirroring the direction Browne travelled. Photographs of plants that Browne studied, illustrations of the animals he wrote about, and a beautiful map of Norfolk to help you visualise the world Browne lived in. Roughcut pages, images, 334pp.

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