The 1651 edition

While in Seattle for the PAMLA conference, I was able to make a brief visit to the Health Sciences Library at the University of Washington to view their copy of the 1651 edition of Crooke’s Mikroskomographia. Although I didn’t have time (or the resources handy) to closely compare the text itself (by which I mean the words that comprise the body of the work – is “text” the correct term?), I did notice several other distinct aspects of this edition and this individual book.

For one thing, the 1651 edition includes several new illustrations. Most striking is the completely made-over title page, part of which I’ve mentioned in an earlier post. This title page also appears on the 1631 edition (and perhaps others; I suppose one thing to add to the “to-do” list is a catalog of title pages among editions). I apologize for the poor image quality; while my iPhone camera actually does quite a fine job when given the chance, I was in a bit of a hurry, and ended up with several blurs. I do have better photographs of each of the individual sections.

There are many interesting images packed into the tight space, and I’ll spend another post examining each more closely, including the tableau at the bottom which, supposedly, includes a portrait of Crooke himself. What I found most unfortunate about this UW copy is that the library has placed their identifying stamp directly on the back of the title page, causing the bright blue ink to bleed through right in the middle of the text at center. I mentioned this to Donna Hirst, curator of the John Martin Rare Book Room at the medical library here at UIowa. She explained that some sort of permanent identifying mark is necessary in case the book should be stolen; however, she agreed with me that the placement of the UW stamp was a travesty. I wonder if perhaps they were worried the title page itself might be torn out, given that it’s arguably the most interesting visual in the book. Although I’d rather see it some place more unobtrusive, I do like the idea of a permanent mark being placed on the book by each and every one of its owners, as a matter of provenance as well as narrative—it’s part of the book’s own story.

The images within the 1651 Mikrokosmographia also vary from the 1615 edition. There are new additions, as well as alterations to existing illustrations. One of the most striking changes to previous images that I noticed involves the illustration of the female reproductive system; the original detailed illustration of the genitals has been erased into a featureless blob.

1615 edition (UIowa copy)

1651 edition (UW copy)

Given that Crooke’s original inclusion of such explicit images caused vehement protest, but he insisted on printing them anyway (apparently to no consequence), I was initially surprised to see the more demure version in this later edition—until I double-checked my dates. Crooke died in 1648, meaning this later edition was published three years after his death. Thirty-six years later, the censors gained some ground, although I can’t help but think of this victory as rather little, and awfully late. I’m anxious now to check the intervening editions for this image.

A Printer of Shakespeare

One of the (major) perks of being at the University of Iowa is access to a bigger library!

As I waited this summer for the move and for school to start, I compiled a list of the books I wanted to check out from the UIowa library. I was thrilled to find so many great items in the catalog, things I would have had to request through interlibrary loan at the University of South Dakota (although their early modern section is none too shabby, thanks to diligent attention from Dr. Darlene Farabee). However, when I got to campus, there was a good number I could not find on the shelves. And it wasn’t just the library construction; a re-check of the catalog showed that, indeed, several of the books were checked out.

As I’ve experienced the irritation of having a library book on my office shelf recalled, I’m reluctant to pull that move on someone else unless I really do need the volume. One book I just could not live any longer without seeing was A Printer of Shakespeare: The Books and Times of William Jaggard by Edwin Eliott Willoughby (1934). The title practically promised mention of Crooke, and I was not disappointed. (I have to admit, immediately checking the index of a volume for Crooke’s name has become such a habit I do it almost reflexively, even to non-early-modern books.)

In his first chapter, Willoughby explains that his primary motivation for writing the book is to shift the general opinion regarding Jaggard from “infamous pirate, liar and thief” (Swinburne’s label) to “the conclusion that he was an honest, prosperous, puritan printer who occasionally . . . made a slip” (Willoughby 3-4). Willoughby’s approach is blatantly biased and plainly dated, but I like the book all the more for just those reasons; the writing is lively, personal, and opinionated. In full disclosure, I haven’t finished the entire volume yet, but it’s been quite an enjoyable read. I’m pleased to come across anyone interested in this set of characters, but to find someone passionately concerned with one of them is a genuine delight.

Jaggard’s relationship to Crooke, of course, is an important one. They were involved both professionally and personally, and I wonder sometimes how much light their relationship might shed on such interactions in turn-of-the-seventeenth-century London. Although several later sources agree that Crooke and Jaggard initially met when the former treated the latter for syphilis, Willoughby is the first I’ve read that is distinctly derogatory regarding Crooke’s work on the case. Willoughby also provides some further insight regarding the source of this information, the Sloane manuscripts (which, as I’ve mentioned before, it seems I will have to travel to London to see). Willoughby writes:

In the Sloane Manuscripts, preserved at the British Museum, is recorded the history of Jaggard’s treatment [for syphilis] (MS. Sloane, 640 ff. 192 a, 266 b, 275 a). The physician who attended the case—we fear in none too skilful a manner—is not identified but he may have been Dr. Helkiah Crooke with whom Jaggard later, at least, seems to have been upon good terms. (103)

Amusingly, Willoughby quite handsomely avoids using the word “syphilis” directly, instead describing how Jaggard’s body

was racked by a disease which is terrible even to-day when all the forces of modern science are marshalled against it, and in the time of Jaggard, with the lack of knowledge of sanitation, was so common that its name was a by-word on the street and stage. . . . Finally, either the disease, or the mercury treatment for it, deprived William Jaggard of that sense which is so necessary to a printer, his sight. . . . In spite of his blindness, William Jaggard struggled on. (102-03)

Indeed, even if Crooke was to blame for the outcome of Jaggard’s tribulation, it seems to me that Jaggard himself would have been unlikely to recognize it, and the two men do seem to have struck up some sort of friendship, for their relationship continued. In his chapter on “The Books of William Jaggard,” Willoughby provides a breakdown of the sorts of books Jaggard printed.

History and Heraldry     –      –     33%

Religion   –      –      –      –      –     30%

Literature      –       –       –       –     18%

Science   –      –       –       –       –     11%

Other subjects  –      –       –       –     8%

Willoughby explains:

Jaggard’s fondness for large illustrated folios and his friendship for [Thomas] Milles and [Augustine] Vincent no doubt accounts largely for the expenditure of so large a proportion of his time and capital in the printing of books and heraldry, and his production of scientific books was no doubt stimulated by the same preferences and his friendship for Topsell and probably for Crooke. (186)

I don’t know enough about Jaggard’s contemporaries to know how this breakdown compares to what other printers were producing, nor am I certain how this compares to what we know about general reading preferences of the time. Elsewhere, Willoughby, like others, credits some of Jaggard’s interest in Crooke’s anatomy volume to Jaggard’s father’s membership in the Barber-Surgeons’ Company: “And no doubt Jaggard was proud to be the publisher of his learned work dedicated to his father’s guild” (106).

Of the two works Jaggard himself issued in 1615, Willoughby calls Mikrokosmographia the “much more important work” (the other was something by Thomas Adams titled The Blacke Devill, Lycanthropy and The Spirituall Navigator; 106). Willoughby helpfully explains that “Crooke’s Mikrokosmographia appeared in three issues, the first in 1615, a second in 1616, and a third in 1618. Besides the changes on the title-page various alterations were introduced in the preface” (106-07). Intriguingly, an image Willoughby includes in this section of his book reproduces the “TITLE-PAGE OF THE RARE SECOND ISSUE OF CROOKE’S MIKROKOSMOGRAPHIA, from the apparently unique copy in the University of Chicago libraries” (plate inserted between pp. 106-07). The title page certainly does look very similar to the majority of the 1615 copies I’ve seen, with the exception of the year in the final line at the bottom of the page; it does include the claim about the monarch I’ve discussed in previous posts. I’m going to have to do some more research, as at the moment I’m not sure exactly what Willoughby means by “issue,” and I’m curious whether 1616 copies are really as rare as he implies.

A poxed printer

Printed by William Jaggard dwelling in Barbican, and are there to be sold, 1615.

This final line of the title page identifies one more important relationship for Crooke. William Jaggard (1568-1623) is best known as the printer of the first folio of Shakespeare, which was completed the year of his death. However (unsurprisingly, I suppose), I find his role in the production of Mikrokosmographia equally interesting.

Jaggard was the son of a barber-surgeon; he met Crooke when he required treatment for syphilis. In his ODNB entry on Jaggard, Stanley Wells writes that Jaggard went blind from the disease “about 1612”; O’Malley records that the printer “suffered from a syphilitically induced blindness in 1612 and turned to Dr. Crooke in what was a vain effort to recover his lost sight” (5). (Both cite Sloane manuscript 640 at the British Museum as the source of this information, but I’ve been unsuccessful in my attempts to find any images of that manuscript online.) According to O’Malley, “the two men became friends,” and when Jaggard told Crooke of his plans to publish a translation of Paré, the physician convinced the printer to take on his own “extensive anatomical treatise for which Crooke had long been collecting material” (6). I find it intriguing that both O’Malley and Wells use the verb “persuade” to describe the way Jaggard was hired as a printer (O’Malley in regard to Crooke; Wells in regard to Thomas Pavier, for whom Jaggard printed the Shakespeare folio). At this point in my readings, I have the impression that Jaggard was rather malleable in his business dealings, perhaps in part because of his blindness. I’m not saying that Crooke and Pavier were aggressively manipulative, but Jaggard does come across as somewhat passive in his transactions with these men. This could be important because it would also have bearing on the issue of the origin and verifiability of the title-page claim about Crooke serving as James I’s personal physician; although Jaggard would have had more to lose for publishing a false claim, he could have been “persuaded” into it by Crooke, if that was the nature of their relationship.

In addition to Crooke and Jaggard’s documented doctor-patient relationship, a search of the Map of Early Modern London reveals that Jaggard’s location in the Barbican was not far (to the north) from St. Anne’s lane, where Crooke lived at the time his book was published, and that the Barber-Surgeons hall, where Crooke’s book was used and the company’s anatomies were conducted, was located in between. I find the physical proximity of these locations a point worth noting. I wonder, for instance, if this nearness is the reason Crooke was called upon to treat Jaggard for his syphilitic blindness in the first place. The College of Physicians was some distance away, on Knightrider Street (south of St. Paul’s). Ironically, because of Jaggard’s blindness, when the College called on the printer to threaten him regarding the objectionable parts of Crooke’s work, it was his wife Jane who appeared before them on his behalf. She apparently was either free from or did not suffer such severe symptoms of the disease.

Ungilding the lily

The Mikrokosmographia title page illustration (1615 edition), reproduced two ways. Top: Photograph (unevenly lit) of the copy held at the University of Iowa; Bottom: Photocopy from C.D. O’Malley’s Bulletin of the History of Medicine article reproducing another 1615 edition copy

The lower half of Crooke’s title page features the images of two bodies, one male and one female. Like the rest of Crooke’s illustrations (and much of his text), these originated in other sources, “the veined man from a zodiacal chart on phlebotomy and the woman from an almanac,” according to Elizabeth Lane Furdell in Publishing and Medicine in Early Modern England (52). C.D. O’Malley, who sees the inclusion of these images on the title page as a blatant flaunting of Crooke’s defiance in regard to the book’s attempted suppression, identifies the illustrations as “a male and a pregnant female figure borrowed from Bauhin’s Theatrum anatomicum, the latter one of the so-called indecent figures previously condemned by the College” (8). That these sources cite different origins for the illustrations may be due to differing images in subsequent editions; the 1631 Mikrokosmographia title page is much more intricate but still includes the two figures. The female appears softer but retains her previous posture and form, while the male undergoes more significant changes; although he remains veined and inexplicably one-armed, his veining is less detailed (appearing more stylistic and less scientific), he is turned to face the center of the page, and a conveniently placed lily grows to cover his more potentially offensive parts. This may have appeased Crooke’s more prudish readers, but there is an odd juxtaposition in revealing the man’s circulatory system while veiling his external genitalia.

A photocopy of the reproduction of the engraved 1631 title page provided by O’Malley in his Bulletin of the History of Medicine article and credited to the “Wellcome Trustees”; the image no doubt originates from a copy held by the Wellcome Trust in England.

Although there appears to be little in the image to verify that this is, indeed, a pregnant woman (as O’Malley notes), the same illustration does appear in the volume’s Book Four, “Of the naturall parts belonging to Generation,” where it is labeled: “Table x. sheweth the portrature of a woman great with child whose wombe is bared and the Kel taken away, that the stomacke, the guttes and the wombe might bee better seene” (V6v). According to the OED, “kel” is more commonly spelled “kell” and, given this context, would refer to “the fatty membrane investing the intestines”; this is what later becomes the word “caul” (although the alternate spelling “calle” also appears as early as 1382). In any case, this female figure is certainly an excellent example of the “self-demonstrating” anatomy subject Jonathan Sawday describes in The Body Emblazoned (113), as she coldly offers her best-kept secrets to the reader’s gaze.

* As always, for complete bibliographic information on the sources used in this entry, see Further Reading

Moving on down…

. . . the title page, that is.

I continue to be surprised by the tangents this project takes me on, but then I have to remember that was part of my goal in creating this blog. My current knowledge base is incredibly limited, so exploring the various issues that arise in the Crooke book gives me the opportunity to read further and learn more about aspects of seventeenth century England I would never have thought to explore. I have a lot more research to do before I can offer any real insight on the true nature of the relationship between Crooke and James I, so I’m going to continue that work behind the scenes and keep moving with the book here.

Oh, but look! That’s easier said than done. The next line on the title page reads:

Published by the Kings Majesties especiall Direction and Warrant according to the first integrity, as it was originally written by the AUTHOR.

As I’ve mentioned, we’ll come back to Crooke and the king. But I believe that the second part of this sentence – “according to the first integrity, as it was originally written by the AUTHOR” – refers to another significant event related to Mikrokosmographia: the attempted suppression of its publication.

C. D. O’Malley explains, “Although the Microcosmographia bears imprint of 1615 and Crooke’s preface is dated ‘last of May’ of that year, parts of the work had been printed and were in circulation as early as November 1614″ (7).* The preview caused consternation among two groups, one religious and one professional. John King, Bishop of London, objected to both the text and illustrations of the sections devoted to human reproduction, particularly the elucidation regarding the female reproductive system, on grounds of indecency. He appealed to the College of Physicians, who had their own objections to the use of the English vernacular being used to disseminate knowledge they considered part of their professional domain. O’Malley writes,

The result was a decision that the President of the College, Sir William Paddy, and one of the Censors, Dr. Edward Lister, should wait upon the Bishop of London to propose that the Microcosmographia not be published at all and that some compensation be awarded the publisher for the costs he had endured; or, at the very least, book four [“Of the natural parts belonging to generation”] be deleted. (8)

Called before the College, Crooke took a month to make an appearance and then apparently refused to accede, as the College next tried to intimidate his publisher and the President threatened to burn all copies of the book he could get his hands on. In a final effort to induce the cooperation of the author and publisher, the College delegated two of its fellows to emend the offensive portions, but with no greater success, and finally the book was printed in its original form, “according to the first integrity, as it was originally written by the AUTHOR.” I find it intriguing that after all this righteous indignation and furious threatening, there appears to have been no real negative consequences to Crooke’s blatant defiance – aside from its cooling affect on his relationship with the College of Physicians, which was none too warm to begin with. This relationship, like that of Crooke to James I, is another complicated one I need to research further before I can offer any greater insight.

* For complete bibliographic information on this source, see “Further Reading

A breadcrumb trail

As I explored in my last post, Crooke claims to have been “Physitian to His Majestie” James I on the title page of all but (what I believe to be) the earliest printings of Mikrokosmographia, in editions reaching from the earliest in 1615 to the last in 1651.

I explored my sources on Crooke for commentary on this issue. As I’ve mentioned before, Crooke’s biography has not been the subject of much study to date. Most scholars who cite his text as a representation of seventeenth-century anatomy knowledge in England are, understandably, not much concerned with the finer points of his life story. My favorite one-sentence summation of Crooke’s identity comes from Elizabeth D. Harvey, who calls him “Helkiah Crooke, seventeenth-century physician and promoter of the dissemination of medical knowledge into the vernacular” (295-96).* This is certainly accurate, but whether Crooke really was personal physician to James I has little or no bearing on that. Jonathan Sawday mentions the matter in passing when he introduces “the anatomist and physician to James I, Helkiah Crooke” (110). Elizabeth Lane Furdell observes, “Although Crooke described himself as ‘Physitian to His Maiestie, and his Highnesse Professor in Anatomy and Chyrurgery,’ the Fellows in the College of Physicians did not approve of his book” (52); this brings up another interesting issue I plan to explore in this blog, but rather elides the question of whether Crooke’s claim was legitimate or not.

The authors specifically interested in Crooke’s biography have slightly more to offer, but not much, in part because they are so few in number. The most recent of these is William Birken’s entry on Crooke in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2010); Birken mentions “Crooke had a strong[…] ally in James I” and “the continuing support of James I,” but doesn’t take a clear stance on the issue (or, indeed, even directly mention it).  Edward O’Donoghue, chronicler of Bethlehem Hospital where Crooke was keeper from 1619-1635, wrote the following in 1914:

Hilkiah [sic] Crooke was a Suffolk man of parts and learning, and, after studying at Cambridge and Leyden, was appointed in 1604 physician to James I. In the next year he wrote a book on anatomy (“Mikrokosmographia”), which he dedicated to his royal patron. (157)

The only source O’Donoghue credits for this passage is a 1631 copy of Mikrokosmographia. It is clear he must be somewhat confused, for although portions of Crooke’s text were in circulation in 1614, it was first published in 1615 – ten years after O’Donoghue’s timeline. Other idiosyncrasies make O’Donoghue’s reliability dubious. More promising is C. D. O’Malley’s 1968 article in the Bulletin of the History of Medicine, which, if my research has been thorough, appears to be the only source that clearly denounces Crooke’s claim. O’Malley writes, “[Crooke] became attached to the royal medical service, but certainly not, as it is sometimes said, as one of the king’s personal physicians” (3). He provides some insight into his reasoning, explaining the fact that Crooke sought election as a Candidate of the College of Physicians in 1610 “is indication that he was not one of the king’s personal physicians, since they with royal support passed directly to the Fellowship” (3-4). This certainly makes sense to me, but I have to admit that when I went back and took this closer look, I was surprised to realize that O’Malley was the only clear voice in this camp; as you’ll note from previous posts, this is the side I stand with.

*For full bibliographic information on all sources used in this post, see Further Reading

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.

Fiction or Fact?

Collected and Translated out of all the Best Authors of Anatomy, Especially out of Gasper Bauhinus and Andreas LaurentiusBy HELKIAH CROOKE Doctor of Physicke, Physitian to His Majestie, and his Highnesse PROFESSOR in Anatomy and Chyrurgerie.

This is where things start to get sticky, for Crooke and for me.

As I’ve mentioned, one of the biggest problems Crooke faces in academic circles is the issue of authorship. If, on the very title page, he himself admits he didn’t write this book, why should we be interested?*

For one thing, it matters who the “we” is. A book such as this holds interest for a variety of parties with (perhaps surprisingly) varied interests. It has value as a physical object in being a book from 1615. From a history-of-medicine standpoint, it’s significant as the first comprehensive English-language anatomy volume.** But what about those of us who live in the realm of literary analysis?

Even making accommodation for my biases, I still think there is obvious reason for us to give this book closer attention. It sort of dovetails bizarrely with my own efforts in creating a modernized version of the text. Any time you create another “version” of any kind, the editor/translator/transcriber has bearing on the work. It’s inevitable.

If we take that as a given, the next question is how much of an effect the editor/translator/whatever has. In the case of Crooke, my hypothesis is that he has quite a lot of impact. Okay, so he doesn’t make any valuable original scientific contributions. The bulk of his anatomy knowledge may be translated from other sources. But Crooke is still heavily present in this text, in three distinct ways.

First, as translator, Crooke chooses not only which words to use but also how to portray the tone and and intentions of his sources. Second, as editor of the volume, he makes crucial decisions about what material to include, what to cut, and in what order to position things. Third, Crooke has originally authored some portions of the text. Although he himself did not conduct any new anatomies in the process of writing this book, he is an educated and experienced practicing physician, and he draws on his experiences in that capacity to add to this text in multiple places. One of the things I’ll be cataloging as I make my way through the book in this blog is just how much of the text is his own original writing—with 1,000+ pages to sort through, even if it’s only a small percentage it may still be a significant amount.

Cumulatively, as author, editor, and translator, Crooke makes clear rhetorical choices in assembling his text and constructing his arguments, helping me to build my case in defense of studying his book. Where he doesn’t help himself is in making completely fallacious claims like the one above: Crooke may have been a “Doctor of Physicke,” but he was not ever “Physitian to His Majestie,” who in 1615 was, of course, James I.

It is not surprising that Crooke would make a claim like this; at the very least it seems a likely bit of marketing. Crooke had certainly met the monarch and was even “in his favor”—James I would later grant him the keepership of Bethlem Hospital (in 1619). Crooke’s few biographers agree on this: O’Malley says, “in a manner . . . unknown, he [Crooke] became attached to the royal medical service, but certainly not, as it is sometimes said, as one of the king’s personal physicians” (3); O’Donoghue reports that Crooke was “a familiar figure in the city [of London] and at court” (164); and Birken asserts Crooke had a strong ally in James I who offered the physician “continuing support” (ODNB).***

I do admit I am a little perplexed by the final part of the phrase, “and his Highnesse PROFESSOR in Anatomy and Chyrurgerie.” I’m assuming this also refers to James I; it seems not unlikely that the monarch would be attributed all sorts of titles he wasn’t practically prepared to hold. But if I’m wrong about this, please let me know. I simply can’t conceive of any other individual who would warrant the concurrent titles of “his Highnesse” and “Professor in Anatomy and Chyrurgerie.”

“Chyrurgerie” is a fun one, though – this is the word we now know as “surgery.” I think we should bring it back. Next time you’re faced with a medical operation, don’t call it surgery; tell your friends you’re “having chyrurgerie” instead. Doesn’t that make it sound much more fun?

*Of course, there is something ironic here post-Foucault, but I haven’t fully explored the theoretical implications yet. I plan to start with Barbara Traister’s work on early modern works by anonymous authors – but that’s a future post.

**In regard to English-language anatomy texts, Crooke is preceded by, at least, Thomas Vicary (Anatomie of Mans Body, 1548) and John Banister (The Historie of Man, 1578). What sets Mikrokosmographia apart, as I hint at above, is its scope—particularly that it includes a full, illustrated description of the female reproductive system in the vernacular, which cause significant problems in Crooke’s professional and religious circles – but again, that’s another post.

***For further bibliography of these sources, see “Further Reading”

The Controversies




Mikrokosmographia comprises thirteen separate books devoted to various components of the human body. Each book includes between nine and forty-three chapters. Books One through Eight are each followed by a sub-section of “controversies,” a set of between eight and sixty-four questions related to the subject matter of the preceding book.

I have not yet read the anatomy volume in its entirety (that is one purpose of this blog). However, based on the reading I have done, the controversies are of no small importance to its significance. Both the chapters and the questions are drawn from other sources; in “The Praeface to the Chyrurgeons,” Crooke explains,

My present worke is for the most part out of Bauhine for the History, Figures, and the severall Authors quoted in his Margents. The Controversies are mostwhat out of Laurentius, with some additions, subtractions and alterations as I thought fit and my wit would serve. . . . I also added Praefaces to every booke conteining the argument and purport thereof: & in the subsequent discourse many passages partly out of my owne observations . . . (❡1r)

My hypothesis for the controversies is similar to that I have for the entire text; although much of the central content is initially drawn from various sources, Crooke makes significant decisions in his concurrent roles as translator, editor, and contributing author in constructing and collating the whole. What I have noticed about the controversies I’ve read is that they in particular provide ready instances of Crooke’s clear, original contribution to the communication of knowledge that happens in this book, because he can hardly resist mediating between contending sources as well as adding his own two bits to the debate. And, indeed, it seems an appropriate place for him to do so.

I’ll examine various individual instances of this occurring as I reach those parts of the text. But I want to mention that I do think it is key to note that Crooke is quite plain and direct about his heavy reliance on various sources yet still promotes his own role in the production of this volume. I’ll also examine this topic more closely as we move on into the preface.

It’s Greek to me

The title of Crooke’s book begins:



 D E S C R I P T I O N

of the Body of Man.

Different scholars transliterate the Greek “MIKPOKOΣMOΓPAΦIA” in different ways. Of eleven sources consulted, four (dated 1914, 2002, 2009, and 2011) opt for Mikrokosmographia; six (1968, 1995, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2007) use Microcosmographia; and one (2004) refrains from transliteration altogether, maintaining the original Greek characters. Munk’s Roll elides the Greek, substituting a series of dashes for the initial word of the title. WorldCat requires the search term “mikrokosmographia” to yield results including Crooke’s book.

Now, as little as I know about Latin, I know even less about Greek-to-English transliteration. From the general reading I’ve done on the topic, it is my understanding that either a “c” or a “k” is an acceptable substitute for the Greek kappa. In studying Crooke’s book, I have learned by experience to use both spellings when conducting general searches.

Personally, I prefer Mikrokosmographia. Why? I like the “k”s. They remind me of the word’s Greek origins. But I have no better (or more scholarly) explanation than that. If anyone would care to weigh in on the transliteration issue, I’d love to hear from you.

As for the meaning of the word, that’s much simpler. It is easily broken down to its Greek roots: “micros,” meaning small; “cosmos,” meaning universe or world; and “graphein,” meaning to draw or write. In the early seventeenth century, the human body was understood to be analogous to the larger universe, in both a literal and metaphoric sense. Literally, humoral theory still held sway, and each of the four humors corresponded to physical earthly elements. In a more metaphoric sense, the human body was considered the epitome of all God’s creation, an idea reflected heavily in Crooke’s writing (which I’ll revisit later). In other words, Mikrokosmographia contains writing about the “little universe” the human body was considered to be in his time. As Crooke succinctly puts it, the book is “a description of the body of man.”

Note – 7/26/12: In Medicinal Cannibalism in Early Modern English Literature and Culture (2011), Louis Noble transliterates Crooke’s title as Microkosmografia, the most unusual way I’ve seen yet. (Noble’s book, by the way, is excellent and definitely worth the read to anyone interested in such matters.)