John Dee – Charlotte Fell Smith (1909) (1st ed)


John Dee – Charlotte Fell Smith (1909) (1st ed)


Title: John Dee (1527-1608)

Author: Charlotte Fell Smith

Publisher: Constable & Company, London, 1909. First edition.

Condition: Hardcover, no dust jacket. Ex-library book. Fair. Library plate on endpaper, number on spine, and blindstamps to plates and title page. A good reading copy. 342pp.

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The first edition of the first biography ever written of the alchemist John Dee.

About John Dee (from Wikipedia):

John Dee (1527 – 1609) was an English mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, occult philosopher, imperialist, and adviser to Queen Elizabeth I. He devoted much of his life to the study of alchemy, divination, and Hermetic philosophy.

Dee straddled the worlds of science and magic just as they were becoming distinguishable. One of the most learned men of his age, he had been invited to lecture on the geometry of Euclid at the University of Paris while still in his early twenties. Dee was an ardent promoter of mathematics and a respected astronomer, as well as a leading expert in navigation, having trained many of those who would conduct England’s voyages of discovery.

Simultaneously with these efforts, Dee immersed himself in the worlds of magic, astrology and Hermetic philosophy. He devoted much time and effort in the last thirty years or so of his life to attempting to commune with angels in order to learn the universal language of creation and bring about the pre-apocalyptic unity of mankind. A student of the Renaissance Neo-Platonism of Marsilio Ficino, Dee did not draw distinctions between his mathematical research and his investigations into Hermetic magic, angel summoning and divination. Instead he considered all of his activities to constitute different facets of the same quest: the search for a transcendent understanding of the divine forms which underlie the visible world, which Dee called “pure verities”.
In his lifetime Dee amassed one of the largest libraries in England. His high status as a scholar also allowed him to play a role in Elizabethan politics. He served as an occasional adviser and tutor to Elizabeth I and nurtured relationships with her ministers Francis Walsingham and William Cecil.