John Aubrey, My Own Life

John Aubrey, My Own Life

by Ruth Scurr

Hardcover

$31.50 $35.00 Save 10% Current price is $31.5, Original price is $35. You Save 10%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Thursday, August 29

Overview

“A game-changer in the world of biography.” —Mary Beard, The Guardian

Shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award

Born on the brink of the modern world, John Aubrey was witness to the great intellectual and political upheavals of the seventeenth century. He knew everyone of note in England—writers, philosophers, mathematicians, doctors, astrologers, lawyers, statesmen—and wrote about them all, leaving behind a great gift to posterity: a compilation of biographical information titled Brief Lives, which in a strikingly modest and radical way invented the art of biography.

Aubrey was born in Wiltshire, England, in 1626. The reign of Queen Elizabeth and, earlier, the dissolution of the monasteries were not too far distant in memory during his boyhood. He lived through England’s Civil War, the execution of Charles I, the brief rule of Oliver Cromwell and his son, and the restoration of Charles II. Experiencing these constitutional crises and regime changes, Aubrey was impassioned by the preservation of traces of Ancient Britain, of English monuments, manor houses, monasteries, abbeys, and churches. He was a natural philosopher, an antiquary, a book collector, and a chronicler of the world around him and of the lives of his friends, both men and women. His method of writing was characteristic of his manner: modest, self-deprecating, witty, and concerned above all with the collection of facts that would otherwise be lost to time.

John Aubrey, My Own Life is an extraordinary book about the first modern biographer, which reimagines what biography can be. This intimate diary of Aubrey’s days is composed of his own words, collected, collated, and enlarged upon by Ruth Scurr in an act of meticulous scholarship and daring imagination. Scurr’s biography honors and echoes Aubrey’s own innovations in the art of biography. Rather than subject his life to a conventional narrative, Scurr has collected the evidence—the remnants of a life from manuscripts, letters, and books—and arranged it chronologically, modernizing words and spellings, and adding explanations when necessary, with sources provided in the extensive endnotes. Here are Aubrey’s intricate drawings of Stonehenge and the ancient Avebury stones; Aubrey on Charles I’s execution (“On this day, the King was executed. It was bitter cold, so he wore two heavy shirts, lest he should shiver and seem afraid”); and Aubrey on antiquity (“Matters of antiquity are like the light after sunset—clear at first—but by and by crepusculum—the twilight—comes—then total darkness”). From the darkness, Scurr has wrested a vibrant, intimate account of the life of an ingenious man.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781681370422
Publisher: New York Review Books
Publication date: 09/06/2016
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 975,198
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

Ruth Scurr is a historian, writer, and literary critic. Her first book, Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution, won the Franco-British Society Literary Prize, was long-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize, short-listed for the Duff Cooper Prize, and chosen as one of the One Hundred Best Books of the Decade in The Times (London). She reviews regularly for The Times Literary Supplement, The Telegraph, the Financial Times, and The Wall Street Journal. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and teaches history and politics at Cambridge University where she is a Lecturer and Fellow of Gonville and Caius College.

Table of Contents

Dramatis Personae ix

List of Illustrations xxiii

England's Collector 1

Part I Wiltshire 17

Part II Oxford 39

Part III War 59

Part IV Learning 81

Part V Restoration 123

Part VI Stone, Water, Fire 149

Part VII Work 191

Part VIII Surrey 215

Part IX Penury 233

Part X The Popish Plot 267

Part XI Brief Lives 291

Part XII More Lives and Deaths 313

Part XIII Manuscripts 335

Part XIV Transcriptions 361

Part XV Crepusculum 399

Aubrey's Afterlife 425

Acknowledgements 433

Endnotes 435

Bibliography 475

Index 489

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews