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 Edward Lister, should wait upon the Bishop of London to propose that the Microcosmographia not be published at all and that some compensation be awarded the publisher for the costs he had endured; or, at the very least, book four [“Of the natural parts belonging to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”