Biblical scholarship, science and politics in early modern England: Thomas Browne and the thorny place of knowledge

Research output: Book/ReportBook


This Book addresses one of the most enigmatic of seventeenth century writers, Thomas Browne (1605-1682), whose voracious intellectual pursuits provide an unparalleled insight into how early modern scholarly culture understood the relations between its disciplines. Browne's work encompasses biblical commentary, historiography, natural history, classical philology, artistic propriety and an encyclopaedic coverage of natural philosophy. This book traces the intellectual climate in which such disparate interests could cohere, locating Browne within the cultural and political matrices of his time.While Browne is most frequently remembered for the magnificence of his prose and his temperamental poise, qualities that knit well with the picture of a detached, apolitical figure, this work argues that Browne's significance emerges most fully in the context of contemporary battles over interpretative authority, within the intricately linked fields of biblical exegesis, scientific thought, and politics. The work centres on a reassessment of the scope and importance of Browne's most elaborate text, "Pseudodoxia Epidemica", his vast encyclopaedia of error with its mazy series of investigations and through this explores the multivalent nature of early-modern enquiry.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAldershot
Number of pages258
ISBN (Print)9780754657309
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009

Publication series

NameLiterary and Scientific Cultures of Early Modernity

Bibliographical note

Prize: Winner, Council for College and University English Book Award, 2010
Shortlisted for the History of Science Society Watson Davis and Helen Miles Davis Prize 2010


  • Browne, Thomas
  • History of Science
  • History of scholarship
  • early modern history
  • early modern literature

Cite this