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The notorious astrological physician of London : works and days of Simon Forman /
Barbara Howard Traister.
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2001.
xviii, 250 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
0226811409 (cloth : alk. paper)
More Details
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2001.
0226811409 (cloth : alk. paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2001-01-01:
Simon Forman was a self-taught physician, astrologer, and practitioner of black magic who was able to practice medicine in 16th-century England despite persecution by the Royal College of Physicians. Traister (English, Lehigh Univ.) uses Forman's manuscripts to paint a colorful image of his life and of society in Shakespeare's London. We hear of various maladies and their cures as well as Forman's use of spells and predictions of the future. We see Forman building his practice and struggling to raise himself in society, and we learn how he thought his patients and peers viewed him. Traister's view is more positive than A.L. Rowse's in Sex and Society in Shakespeare's Age: Simon Forman the Astrologer (1974. o.p.), the only other recent book on Forman. Recommended for large academic collections.DEric D. Albright, Duke Univ. Medical Ctr. Lib., Durham, NC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews, November 2000
Library Journal, January 2001
Guardian UK, February 2001
Books in Canada, September 2001
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Main Description
Quack, conjurer, sex fiend, murdererSimon Forman has been called all these things, and worse, ever since he was implicated (two years after his death) in the Overbury poisoning scandal that rocked the court of King James. But as Barbara Traister shows in this fascinating book, Forman's own unpublished manuscriptsconsidered here in their entirety for the first timepaint a quite different picture of the works and days of this notorious astrological physician of London. Although he received no formal medical education, Forman built a thriving practice. His success rankled the College of Physicians of London, who hounded Forman with fines and jail terms for nearly two decades. In addition to detailing case histories of his medical practicethe first such records known from Londonas well as his run-ins with the College, Forman's manuscripts cover a wide variety of other matters, from astrology and alchemy to gardening and the theater. His autobiographical writings are among the earliest English examples of their genre and display an abiding passion for reworking his personal history in the best possible light, even though they show little evidence that Forman ever intended to publish them. Fantastic as many of Forman's manuscripts are, it is their more mundane aspects that make them such a priceless record of what daily life was like for ordinary inhabitants of Shakespeare's London. Forman's descriptions of the stench of a privy, the paralyzed limbs of a child, a lost bitch dog with a velvet collar all offer tantalizing glimpses of a world that seems at once very far away and intimately familiar. Anyone who wants to reclaim that world will enjoy this book.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
A Self-Conscious Life
Medical Theories: A Physician Evolves
Forman's London Practice
Troubles with the College of Physicians
Forman's Occultism
Forman and His Books
Forman in Society
Forman and Public Events
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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