Certainly, this must be in part due to supply, as the majority of the vernacular medical books coming off English presses in the period are practically orientated but I think that these book choices also speak to the aim of their reading. Both might have read for leisure elsewhere in library but here, they were reading for practice. Nor were they exceptional in doing so, for even though traces of early modern women's medical reading practices are hard to find, there are many other instances in the archives.
In addition to the various examples provided about concerning women reading herbals, there is also documentation showing women readers exploring a variety of medical genres. The Wellcome Library's copy of the edition of John French's The Art of Distillation contains a cornucopia of annotations and notes written in by Rebecca Tallamy and other members of the Tallamy family in the s. In fact, running out of space in the margins and blanks of French's work, the Tallamy family decided to bind the printed book with an additional blank leaves to allow them to further expand their collection of medical and culinary know-how.
Like Boscawen and Freke, Rebecca Tallamy also read several medical books at the same time. References linked to several recipes suggest that the Tallamys were, at the very least, reading Nicholas Culpeper and William Salmon alongside John French. By the mid seventeenth century, female readers in early modern English households fully utilized the offerings coming off the printing presses to extend, confirm and challenge their own medical knowledge. Not only did gentlewomen like Elizabeth Freke and Margaret Boscawen read a wide range of texts but they also engaged with these texts actively.
To return to Brathwaite's terms, they perused, questioned and conversed about the information proffered in printed texts and re-codified the know-how to suit their own needs. Women's medical reading practices were, thus, sophisticated syntheses of a range of medical and natural knowledge circulating in a variety of media.
Here, acts of reading and writing themselves are also ways in which informal medical knowledge is transferred and created. Boscawen's and Freke's active engagement with vernacular medical texts, in both manuscript and print, places them in the role of knowledge producers. Just as early modern natural philosophers might have relied on both readings and observations to understand the natural world, Boscawen and Freke combined time spent poring over books and time spent trying cures, planting herbs and making medicines.
The notebooks of Boscawen and Freke also highlight the divergent ways that were employed by early modern readers to seek out and appropriate natural knowledge. While we can paint both readers as elderly gentlewomen reading and healing in remote estates, their book choices and the ways in which they utilized their libraries were vastly different. Nowhere is this more evident than in their notes on plant information. Freke's stand-alone abstract of Gerard's herbal and Boscawen's useful lists taken from Culpeper's The English Physician Enlarged emphasize how individual readers approached the same textual genre in a myriad of ways.
In addition, Boscawen's two sets of differing notes from The English Physician , the to-do lists in her plant book and the topical lists in her miscellany, remind us that a reader can also approach a single title in varying ways. My study of Boscawen and Freke's medical reading confirms recent arguments put forward by historians of reading on the need to study different modes of reading: acknowledgement of individual readers and the importance of reconstructing social, economic and political contexts for different sets of readers.
These same requirements most certainly also affected the other ways in which these two women participated in contemporary medical markets. While there is little evidence to suggest that either offered their medical services or sold their homemade remedies commercially, both likely interacted with contemporary medical practitioners and medicine producers as active patients and smart consumers.
Consequently, in a way, the stress placed by historians of reading on creating individuated narratives can also be extended to our studies of medical knowledge transfer and medical consumption.
In recent years, historians of early modern medicine have worked to construct long narratives of medical consumerism and of the gradual commercialization of medical care in Britain and beyond. For sophisticated knowledge makers such as Boscawen and Freke must have made formidable negotiators in their medical encounters. Gg 1r. MacLean ed. Sive Enchiridion Botanicum. Raymond eds. Jenner and P.
Wallis eds. Webster ed. Elsewhere I have argued that early modern fathers, husbands, uncles and sons were also interested and active participants of home-based medicine and, of course, they were readers too. Furdell, in particular, provides a good overview of female printers and the production of medical print, Chap.
Porter ed. Marland and M. Pelling eds. Leong and A. Rankin eds. That is, as literary scholars such as Jennifer Richards, Michael Schoenfeldt and Helen Smith have argued, the act of reading itself is an embodied practice. Recent works include: Volker Hess and Andrew Mendelsohn eds. Kelly eds. The left panel shows Lady Anne at age fifteen standing in front of some of her prized possessions, including a volume of Gerard's Herbal. For information on the portrait, see G.
Howarth ed. A full list of the 24 examples is provided in Appendix B —4. Moody Stroud: Sutton Publishing, , Add MS is bound in white vellum and contains a version of Freke's remembrances and her medical and culinary notes. Add MS is bound in brown wallpaper and presents a second neater copy of the remembrances.
Add contains geographical and historical notes collected by Freke.
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The sections copied out of the pharmacopoeias of Moyse Charas and George Bate are at fols. See below for further information on the two printed publications and the entries. The instances where she notes attributes are relatively rare and there does not appear to be any consistency or patterns behind these citations.
Some of the authors are ancient authorities, others modern. In some instances, as in the case of Mattioli and the Rest Harrow, the authority is associated with reporting an actual case but in other instances the authority is linked with general information: , fols.
Dr Lisa Smith
I am grateful to Anne Stobart for introducing me to the Fortescue archive. This is the second edition of Culpeper's wildly popular The English Physitian. The combination of the numerous editions and Boscawen's sparse notes makes it difficult to identify the exact edition used.
However, it appears that many of the page numbers quoted by Boscawen correspond to the edition.
See below for details. Their Origin and Evolution. Large receipt book. The book is unfoliated. The verso side of the folio is filled with medicines for the head. The four columns continue on the recto side of the next folio but the page is largely empty. Artisanal Writing or Natural Historical Paperwork? I have been unable to identify the exact system used by Boscawen but her notes most closely match that of Edmond Willis as described in An Abreuiation of Writing by Character London, Mendle ed. Dowd and J.
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Eckerle eds. Boscawen's notes refer to the second expanded edition of the work first published in Wing C For an account of the many different kinds of medical services and goods purchased by Freke during her husband's last illness, see BL, Additional MS , fols. Being the Diary of Celia Fiennes , ed. Emily W.
Large receipt book and , fols. Both these works were issued in multiple editions in the seventeenth century. Boscawen consulted the expanded edition Wing K The Queens Closet Opened was likewise a popular publication and Boscawen's reading notes matches to the first edition. Fissell shows that recipe books made up 22 per cent of the popular medical books printed between — esp.
Culpeper's School of Physick was re-issued three times in and a final edition appeared in His Pharmacopoeia Bateana was published posthumously in Latin in with numerous later editions. The Latin version of the text contains Bate's prescriptions as edited by the apothecary James Shipton with five hundred of the physician Jonathan Goddard's chemical processes and explications under the title Aracana Goddardiana. This is a translation, by William Salmon of the second edition of Bates' Latin text. Salmon also enlarged the text with his own additional commentary and recipes.
The authorship of the recipes is clearly noted in square brackets throughout the text. Bate's Dispensatory Enlarged London, , contained even larger numbers of recipes by Salmon, to the point where the recipes from both authors were similar in number.
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Freke most likely consulted the second edition of the work. Galenical and Chymical. Moyse Charas — was an apothecary and chemist in Paris in the mid seventeenth century. This is the recipe collection of Elizabeth Sleigh and Felicia Whitfield. Some fifty-two items are listed, most of which, like on Freke's list, are religious works. Interestingly, an annotator changed the publication date on the title page from to , suggesting that there was some awareness that French's book required some updating if only cosmetic by the eighteenth century.
Perhaps contrary to this, a number of the recipes written on the additional leaves are attributed to past well-known medical or political personages from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries including Princess Elizabeth fol. The recipe could be copied from a number of works penned by Culpeper and, at present, I have not been able to directly link the manuscript reference to the printed work. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U.