Curiouser and curiouser

By HELKIAH CROOKE Doctor of Physicke, Physitian to His Majestie, and his Highnesse PROFESSOR in Anatomy and Chyrurgerie.

In checking some other copies of Mikrokosmographia also printed in 1615, I discovered something interesting: They don’t include include the fallacious claim about Crooke’s relationship to James I.

I was able to access clear images of the title pages of two other books, specifically: 1) The 1615 Mikrokosmographia held in the John Martin Rare Book Room of the Hardin Medical Library at the University of Iowa, and 2) The 1615 Mikrokosmographia that is part of the Horace Howard Furness Memorial (Shakespeare) Library, viewable online through the Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text and Image (SCETI) at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries. For ease and clarity, I’ll refer to these as “the Martin book” and “the SCETI book.” Both of these books show only “By HELKIAH CROOKE Doctor in Physicke.” Here is an image of that section of the title page, from the Martin book:

This made me curious: Was the false claim regarding Crooke’s relationship to the monarch present in an earlier printing and then removed? Or was it initially absent and then added in a later printing, perhaps to be removed thereafter?

As I’ve noted, my primary source for this blog is the 1615 edition available in .pdf format on Early English Books Online (EEBO), STC6062; this is the copy showing the full passage reproduced at the top of this post. The EEBO images were made from a copy of Mikrokosmographia held at the Huntington Library.

I’ve maintained in my notes a list of printing dates for the Crooke book. Copies of the book were printed in 1615, 1616, 1618, 1631, and 1651. Now, you must pardon me for a moment; my bibliographic ignorance is going to show. (Please feel free to correct me by commenting on this post!) My understanding is that a differentiation must be made between separate “editions” of a text, which the author has in some way significantly altered or emended, and “printings,” in which slight changes might be made but the main goal was not to alter the text but rather to produce more copies for sale. Furthermore, because of the nature of the printing process in this time period, individual copies of any given book are likely to show differences.

So, of the five dates listed above, I believe only three of them represent separate editions: 1615 (the original, obviously), 1631, and 1651. Quite frankly, I can’t verify this until I have the time and resources to conduct more thorough research. Also, because I think that alterations to the title page such as the one under examination here are the sorts of changes that may have occurred between separate “printings” of the same “edition,” it doesn’t really affect my current question. What I do want to point out is that if multiple printings of the same edition occurred during the same year it seems it would be more difficult to determine which copies were produced earlier or later. If I have two copies that appear largely similar, one dated 1616 and one dated 1618, I know which copy was printed first. However, if I have two copies dated 1615 that show recognizable differences, the question of which version is the earlier is decidedly problematic.

I consulted the title pages of later printings and editions of Mikrokosmographia accessible on EEBO. The problem there is that these are digital facsimiles of microfilms; in other words, the images leave quite a lot to be desired, and with the introduction of a much more elaborately decorated title page with the 1631 edition, the words become downright illegible. If the catalog notes are to be trusted, however, it seems that the 1616, 1618, 1631, and 1651 copies all include the same full author description reproduced at the start of this post.

This, in my mind, accounts for two things: 1) The persistence of the false notion that Crooke was James I’s personal physician, and 2) The likelihood of the Martin and SCETI books representing earlier printings. There are two options for the order of the printings. Either the information was originally present, was removed, and then was added back in, or the information was not originally present and then was added. It seems more probable that, initially, the title page merely credited Crooke as author and stopped at that, but then further information was added to later (and all subsequent) printings. I’ll explore some of the possible reasons for the addition in my next post.

Further note (6/8/12): Eve Keller’s chapter “Subjectified Parts and Supervenient Selves: Rewriting Galenism in Crooke’s Mikrokosmographia” (see Further Reading for more info) reprints the title page of a 1615 copy of the book held by the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library of Yale University; that copy, like the SCETI and Hardin copies, shows the shorter version of the author’s byline, “By HELKIAH CROOKE, Doctor in Physicke,” and no more.

One Comment on “Curiouser and curiouser”

  1. D Farabee says:

    You might find some useful information in the catalogs of the libraries which hold the various copies. In other words, the listing on the Folger Library catalog for example likely has a more complete entry on their copy of Crooke than that which appears in the ESTC.
    Here is the link to Hamnet, the Folger Catalog:
    The catalog description of the 1631 edition has a fairly complete description of the title page.

    The blog is certainly getting interesting!

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