George Gömöri

Best Friends Forever

The Album Amicorum and the London of Shakespeare’s Time


The British Library 220pp £45 order from our bookshop

The fashion to keep an album amicorum – a book for students and theologians to collect the signatures, comments and suggestions of the noteworthy people they met on their travels – started around the middle of the 16th century. The Protestant reformer Philipp Melanchthon advised students and theologians to carry two such books: one for high-ranking persons and one for lesser mortals. Most people, however, kept only one, and the entries cut across social differences, though generally the more illustrious names are to be found in the first half of the albums. Contributors could include kings, princes, and aristocrats, academics and humble students, and other travellers whom the owners stumbled upon in their journeys across Europe and as far away as Constantinople. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'It is one of those nice linguistic ironies that English should have attempted to make sex respectable by clothing… ,
    • 'He was to my mind the father of the idea that journalism – yes, even journalism – can have a moral dimension to it… ,
    • RT : Feeling old, as exhumes a piece I wrote 37 years ago. But a joy to see Kathy O’S there too. Here’s why:… ,
    • 'Enough of his character remains just out of reach for Barnes to relish the challenge of imagining him.' Patrick M… ,
    • RT : I did a thing about the new Penguin Book Of Oulipo for this month’s Literary Review: @Lit_Review,
    • 'Moore’s work has been so influential that the former ministers who provided him with much of his information now r… ,
    • 'Although he travels through time and space to find the best produce, his choices, delightfully, are not obvious.'… ,