As it turns out, I was lucky enough to be awarded a University of Iowa Graduate College T. Anne Cleary International Dissertation Research Award, which enabled me to take a two-and-a-half week trip to England to look at copies of Crooke’s books, along with some other things. I’ve just been back a week.
This was no leisurely research trip where I checked into my hotel, obtained my reader’s card from the British Library, and perused a few dusty tomes at the same desk for a few hours each day. I saw a library per day–sometimes more. I visited London, Cambridge, and Oxford. And I viewed every copy of Crooke on record in those locations: 34 copies of Mikrokosmographia and 13 copies of Somatographia Anthropine.
This bibliographic research was crucial to my dissertation work. But perhaps even more vital were the manuscripts I saw, which included Crooke’s 13 theses on anatomy from the University of Leiden, held at the Royal Society of Medicine; the Annals of the College of Physicians, with their many, many references to Crooke at varying stages of his career; and the Sloane Manuscripts at the British Library, which record printer William Jaggard’s treatment for syphilis (perhaps at the hands of Crooke himself) and several quotations from/references to Mikrokosmographia.
It may not have been the trip of a lifetime, but it was certainly a pivotal event in the course of my PhD degree. It absolutely validated the work I am undertaking in my dissertation. Although the research I completed does not hardly represent a comprehensive survey of Crooke’s anatomy, it is a sizeable step in that direction. I have to be honest: I waited until after I’d visited all the libraries to counted up the individual copies I had actually seen. (And there were a couple surprises that hadn’t been on the agenda.) But on the plane on my way back home, the old song sung to pass time on long trips echoed in the back of my head; except instead of “ninety-nine bottles of beer” on the wall, it was thirty-four copies of Crooke…
I have been looking up copies of Mikrokosmographia located in London and Oxbridge in preparation to apply for funding to enable a dissertation research trip late this summer/early fall.
My starting place is the English Short Title Catalogue online. Although the lists of copies provided there are notoriously unreliable, it gives me a good idea of where to go looking, including places I would otherwise never identify as a possible location for a library, much less a copy of Crooke’s book. I then visit the corresponding online library catalogs to perform searches for copies of any edition or issue of Mikrokosmographia or Somatographia Anthropine, the epitome. I very much enjoy this virtual detective work, although it tests the limits of my technological skills and proves the vagaries of various online cataloging systems and practices. It also makes me incredibly anxious to complete the investigation, which absolutely requires a physical trip to the archives.
One particularly tantalizing tidbit I uncovered is a copy of Mikro at the University of Cambridge. I should say, first of all, that there appear to be nine Crooke books at Cambridge total:
- First edition
- 1615 issue: 2 copies
- 1618 issue: 2 copies
- Second edition
- 1631: 3 copies
- First edition
- Somatographia Anthropine
- First edition
- 1616: 1 copy
- Second edition
- 1634: 1 copy
- First edition
It is also little surprise to find such a plethora of Crooke at Cambridge, as it is his Alma Mater; at age fifteen he matriculated as a sizar, earning his B.A. with John Bois at St. John’s College in 1596. After studying medicine for a time in Leiden, he returned to Cambridge and earned his medical degree in 1604.
Although the copies of Crooke’s books are scattered around the University, there is some online documentation of the one owned by Crooke’s own college, St. John’s. It is a 1618 Mikrokosmographia (third issue of the first edition). The volume–donated by Hugh Gatty, another St. John’s alum–features a contemporary binding stamped in gilt with the coat of arms of its original owner: Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford (1593-1641), and, you guessed it, also a graduate of St. John’s. Images of the binding and Strafford’s signature inside the front board of the book as well as more info about Wentworth can be found on the St. John’s College website.
I’m very much hoping that the funding comes through and I am able to complete this research. I’ve located over 30 copies to see between Oxford, Cambridge, and multiple London locations including the British Library, the Wellcome Institute, the Royal College of Surgeons, and the Royal College of Physicians. There are several other potential copies whose existence and location have been less possible to verify online. In addition to copies of Crooke’s books, I hope to view the Sloane Manuscripts that contain mentions of him, the Annals of the Royal College of Physicians in which he appears multiple times, and the manuscript copy of Crooke’s Leiden thesis at the Royal Society of Medicine.
Today I spent some time reading and revisiting the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entries for all the people I could find related to Helkiah Crooke’s early life. There are entries for:
- Thomas Crooke, Helkiah’s father
- Samuel Crooke, Helkiah’s older brother
- Stephen Egerton, Helkiah’s brother-in-law
- John Bois, Helkiah’s tutor at Cambridge
In addition to a few amusing anecdotes, I was able to piece together some interesting information about the Crooke family. One thing I hadn’t previously realized is that there were nine siblings in all! From eldest to youngest, the four older children were Sara, Thomas, Samuel, and Helkiah. The five younger were two boys and three girls—John, Richard, Rachel, Anne, and Elizabeth—who were all still minors at the time of their father’s death in 1598.
I looked to the entry for Helkiah’s father, Thomas Crooke, hoping to find the name of Helkiah’s mother. What I found has me somewhat perplexed. The entry reads: “Crooke and his wife, Samuel (sic), can have married no later than 1568…” (Brett Usher, ODNB). I’m assuming the (sic) must have been inserted by the ODNB editor, not the author of the entry, as it appears as part of his text (and not within a quote). I will have to look at the author’s source materials to see what I can find to help clarify; I have certainly never heard of a woman named Samuel, but that’s part of what I love about studying the early modern period!
Interestingly (if not particularly usefully), I also discovered that, by marriage, twice-removed, Helkiah has a distant connection to John Winthrop, governor of Massachusetts. Helkiah’s older sister, Sara, married Stephen Egerton; Egerton’s younger sister Anne had a daughter, Margaret, who married Winthrop in 1618.
Helkiah’s relationship to Egerton, a puritan preacher, is far more consequential for other reasons, however. Egerton and his associate Robert Dexter gave Helkiah his first chance to appear in print. The two men were undertaking a collected edition of the works of Richard Greenham (he has his own ODNB entry), a beloved puritan clergyman who had recently died. Helkiah apparently helped with the volume’s editing and wrote an introduction and some verses that appear in its opening pages. The book, Paramthion: Two Treatises of the Comforting of an Afflicted Conscience, was published in 1598 and can be found on EEBO, complete with the portions Crooke authored.
It was not only Helkiah’s brother-in-law and father who were clergymen, however. His older brother Samuel also entered the church. Although the two men lived very different lives, I can see parallels between them. The brothers were born only a year apart, and I find it hard not to believe that they would have been close growing up. Both brothers attended Cambridge. Like his younger brother Helkiah, who at times struggled with his governing professional body (the College of Physicians), Samuel encountered complaints from the church courts. The records of both institutions show that the brothers were equally vociferous defendants of their own actions. Both men, in the course of their careers, became published authors of some fame. Ultimately, however, time was kinder to the memory of Samuel Crooke, who passed away one year after his younger brother. Although Helkiah died relatively poor and friendless, Samuel’s funeral was attended by “many hundreds,” far more than the church could hold.
On a lighter note, the entry on Helkiah’s tutor John Bois provides an amusing anecdote. Bois was a Greek scholar who is now best remembered for his work on the King James Bible, which he helped translate and annotate. Crooke initially studied with Bois for his BA degree at Cambridge, but after a brief stint at the University of Leiden, Crooke returned to England to continue his medical degrees. Back at Cambridge, Crooke began his study of medicine with Bois, who had originally “thought of studying medicine but, imagining he had every disease of which he read, gave it up” in favor of Greek; Bois’s biographer amusingly describes the scholar’s attitude toward his own health as “a fetish” (David Norton, ODNB). Surely, if nothing else, Crooke’s early medical training was fastidious.
Together, along with many others we’ve lost to history, Crooke was shaped by these people and influences into the young physician who would become the author of Mikrokosmographia. It is such a delight to have this wealth of resources available to shed light on some of the lesser-known connections that played important roles in Crooke’s early life.
As promised, the full version of the paper I recently presented at the Society for Textual Scholarship conference is linked below. I’ve revised it slightly, both in response to the wonderful feedback I received at the conference and to make it more readable, as it was originally intended to be heard. Please forgive the clunky documentation; I believe it is complete, but, as so often happens with conference papers, it is rather ungraceful.
Although I don’t have further plans for this particular piece, this issue will certainly continue to be a part of my general inquiry into Crooke’s book, and I welcome further insights/questions, etc. As soon as I find time, I’ll be following up on Whitney Trettien‘s excellent suggestion to take a look at some anatomical flapbooks, such as the Hardin Library’s Johann Remmelin’s Catoptrum microcosmicum (1619) here at the University of Iowa that Whitney has blogged about.
My upcoming paper for the Society for Textual Scholarship conference meeting in Chicago, March 6-8, has afforded me the opportunity to return to one of the most intriguing mysteries surrounding Mikrokosmographia and, in doing so, I’ve be able to clarify some crucial information about editions and issues of this book. To summarize the issue I’m pursuing, let me quote from my abstract:
In 1612, William Jaggard, who would later print the first folio of Shakespeare’s works, required medical treatment for syphilis. He was seen by London physician Helkiah Crooke, and although the treatment was apparently unsuccessful (Jaggard later went blind from his illness), the two men struck up an ongoing relationship. For some time Jaggard, whose father was a barber-surgeon, had been considering publishing a medical volume, and he decided to take on Crooke’s own anatomy project, Mikrokosmographia: A Description of the Body of Man, a compendium of continental anatomy knowledge that Crooke hoped would forefront the development of more advanced dissection practices in England. The first edition was published in 1615.
However, copies of Crooke’s manuscript were in circulation as early as the summer of 1614, as evidenced by the scandal it created; Crooke’s book included a full description of the female reproductive system, and it was written in the vernacular. The first fact raised the ire of the Bishop of London, the second the objections of the College of Physicians, of which Crooke was a member. The church found the illustrations and description of the female body immoral, while the physicians protested the dissemination of their specialized professional knowledge to a broad audience. To add insult to injury, Crooke dedicated his book to the city’s other group of medical professionals, the barber-surgeons. While the physicians were university-educated members of the upper class, the barber-surgeons trained by apprenticeship with little or no formal schooling.
The printing of the anatomy was a substantial project; Crooke writes in his “Praeface to the Chyrurgeons” that he had to limit the book’s size because, at just over 1,000 pages, it had grown “too chargeable for the printer.” It seems clear that both author and publisher had much to lose, and the protests regarding Mikrokosmographia were adamant. The church demanded that the College reign in its errant member; the College called for Crooke to appear before them, and when he failed to show, they in turn called for Jaggard; his wife appeared in the blind printer’s place. The College threatened that if the offending sections (Books Four and Five) were not removed from the book, they would burn all copies of the volume upon publication.
Despite all this, Crooke and Jaggard printed the book in its original form. Astonishingly, there were no repercussions.
What adds further intrigue to what turned out to be apparently empty threats from the Bishop of London and College of Physicians is that the second edition of Crooke’s book, first published in 1631 while Crooke was still alive and well but by a different publisher (as Jaggard had died in 1623), was censored to some extent. The main alteration I am focusing on is one of the offending illustrations, that of an anatomized woman’s torso, sans head, sans arms, sans legs… but not sans everything. In the first edition of Mikrokosmographia (printed 1615, 1616, and 1618), the illustration includes detailed depiction of the vaginal cleft. In the second edition (printed 1631 and 1651), the anatomical detail in that area of the woodblock has been obliterated.
I first reported on this difference back in October 2012 when I first viewed a later copy at the University of Washington while at a conference in Seattle. I have since been able to view four additional copies of the book at the University of Chicago: a 1615, 1616, 1641, and 1651 (in addition to a 1634 copy of Alexander Read’s cross-indexed 8vo epitome). Mr. Ronald Sims of the Galter Health Sciences Library at Northwestern University kindly inspected their 1618 and 1631 copies for me yesterday. (I’m headed to Madison to visit special collections at the University of Wisconsin tomorrow to see their 1631 and 1651 copies.)
All of this observation has enabled me to confirm what I suspected from EEBO images—that the first edition of the book, the three issues of which were all printed by William Jaggard, features the illustration in its fully detailed form, while the second edition, two issues by Richard Cotes, reflect the alteration to the woodblock.
Interestingly, while the first edition title pages all specify not only that Jaggard’s shop printed the volumes but also that they were “there to be sold,” the second edition indicates Michael Sparke as bookseller. As the Oxford DNB notes, “Sparke’s life and work were characterized by his maniacal devotion to the protestant religion.” Sparke’s relationship to women was also fraught: He was married twice, and although when he died he left a significant portion of his money to his second wife, he requested burial beside his first; he also banned all women, save his daughters and granddaughters, from his funeral. I intend to investigate whether Sparke’s role in the production of the second edition may have influenced the decision to the alter the image in question.
In addition to this possible influence from the second edition’s intended seller, I’m also conducting further research into print censorship in early modern England. We all know that history doesn’t follow a neat cause-and-effect trajectory; unfortunately, we do not learn from our mistakes and progress steadily forward, constantly improving. Although the publication of the first edition of Mikrokosmographia in its original intended form to no apparent negative consequence, despite the extensive warnings, may appear to represent a step forward as the first medical description of the female reproductive system published in the English vernacular, any progress made was subtly undercut by the alterations made to this illustration in the second edition. I look forward to reading more about the social, personal, religious, and political forces that generated this outcome.
There’s a new website up for the exciting prosopographical project underway at the University of Exeter, “The Medical World of England, Wales and Ireland, c. 1500-1715.” The website is called Early Modern Practitioners and provides an overview of the project, sample data, a “practitioner of the month,” and more. Ultimately, this project will take the form of a database containing biographies of all the active medical practitioners during the time period and in the locations of the project’s title as well as a study of the data compiled which will be published as a major monograph.
This project will build in part on the work I’ve previously mentioned completed by Margaret Pelling. As someone with keen interest in this subject and who has conducted a considerable amount of research in this area, it is my opinion that this is work that very much needs to be done. Although there has been excellent and extensive work on the key players in this time period—think William Harvey—the truth is, there aren’t that many William Harveys. A lot of the big names in medicine (and related fields) are coming out of other parts of Europe; Great Britain is noticeably behind the continent in medical advancement (as well as most other areas) during the Renaissance.
But this doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a vibrant medical scene in England, Wales, and Ireland during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In fact, as the website explains:
The sheer numbers of people who practised medicine in some form or other during the medieval and early modern periods are overwhelming. Medical practitioners were, quite literally, everywhere. From ‘formal’ trained and licensed physicians across to the village blacksmith who might perform a secondary role as tooth-drawer, the types of practitioner are also legion. All of the terms below can be found in early modern sources as descriptive terms for practitioners, including their various derivatives and alternative spellings) and this list is by no means exhaustive.
Physic (Phisic, Physick, Phisique, Fisick(e)), Physician, Doctor (of medicine), licentiate, Practicer, Practitioner, Apothecary (pothecary, poticary), Surgeon, Chirurgeon (Chirurgion), Barber, Barber-Surgeon, Mounteban(c)k, Druggist, Chemist, Midwife, Peruke-maker.
This legion of individuals is indeed a rich cross-section of early modern culture, and it will be vastly interesting to see what insights this project develops.
Although I certainly hope that Crooke will be a part of this database, in truth he falls somewhere between this vast majority of medical practitioners and those well-known names like Harvey. Although not widely considered a major contributor to his field, and certainly not a readily recognizable name for most people, Crooke has in fact received much more attention than many of his contemporary physicians, as William Birken has reminded me. But it may be precisely because of this in-between role that he maintains—his part as an “irregular,” as Pelling calls this group—that Crooke may be particularly situated to lend helpful insight to some of the questions raised by this project and related inquiries.
Organizing the 13th annual Craft Critique Culture conference at the University of Iowa is just one of the many things keeping me from completing a new blog post, so I thought I’d let both projects serve the other by posting the CFP here. Our submission deadline has just been pushed back to February 8.
Most exciting in relation to the subject matter of this blog is our guest keynote speaker, Dr. Jonathan Sawday. Sawday, a cultural historian and author of The Body Emblazoned: Dissection and the Human Body in Renaissance Culture, is Walter J. Ong, S.J., chair in the humanities and currently serves as chairperson of the English department at St. Louis University. I once had dinner with Dr. Sawday, who told me that back in England he had perused a copy of Mikrokosmographia the pages of which were splattered with blood from the anatomy theater. Sawday’s current work on blanks and voids in literature, art, and culture ties into our conference theme, “Into the Void.” See CFP below (feel free to pass on/circulate):
The 13th Annual Craft Critique Culture Conference
Into the Void
March 29-30, 2012
University of Iowa
But in the midst of the long row there hangs a canvas which differs from the others. . . . on this one plate no name is inscribed, and the linen within the frame is snow-white from corner to corner, a blank page.
— Isak Dinesen, “The Blank Page”
As an interdisciplinary conference, CCC itself enters into the void between disciplines. We seek papers from the broadest variety of fields (English, philosophy, history, law, classical studies, anthropology, art, sociology, theater, political science, psychology, etc.), from the full range of approaches and time periods, as well as work that is itself interdisciplinary (cultural studies, book history, religious studies, bioethics and humanities, media studies, digital humanities, etc.). We want to hear about the voids you encounter in literature, art, culture, and even the sciences. Voids can be frightening areas of the unknown, the empty, the uncharted, but as such they can also be spaces for incredible opportunity and discovery.
The word “void” is both spatial and conceptual. As a noun, it can signify a blank page, an empty room, or ineffective speech; as a verb, it can render vacant, exhaust a subject, nullify or annul. The void is gap, absence, lack—but also possibility, purity, and potential. How is the void figured in art, music, literature, and film? Is there an aesthetic of the void? A language of the void? How does the artist or author negotiate the void? How does the audience or reader negotiate it? How is the void made productive? How does encountering the void affect/alter identity? How are voids deployed in order to manipulate or appease?
Topics could include:
- Blank spaces in works of literature, film, art, etc.
- Opportunity created by a void
- Concepts of “impossible speech”
- Performing the void
- Voids in translation
- Identity voids
- Spatial voids
- Poetics of the void
- Anxiety of the void
- Geographical voids
- Ethics of the void
- Politics and the void
- Anything related to gaps, spaces, fissures, emptiness, holes, darkness, blankness, unboundedness, openness, etc.
Craft Critique Culture is an interdisciplinary conference focusing on the intersections among critical and creative approaches to writing both within and beyond the academy. We invite the submission of critical, theoretical, and original creative work in a variety of media and across the humanities, sciences, and legal disciplines. In the past, submissions have included not only traditional scholarly papers but also film, video, music, writing, visual art and artists’ books, and performance. There are all kinds of voids to explore, in all kinds of ways.
Please submit abstracts of no more than 350 words. Full panels (featuring three papers) may also be proposed. Each panel proposal should consist of three abstracts and a brief explanation of the panel’s purpose and relevance to the conference. Each panel submission should total no more than 1,000 words. Please include name, institutional affiliation (if applicable), street address, telephone number, and email address on all abstracts and proposals. Please submit all paper abstracts or panel proposals to Craft Critique Culture, firstname.lastname@example.org. Submission deadline is February 8, 2013.