Peter Marshall

Occult Following

The Arch-Conjuror of England: John Dee

By

Yale University Press 335pp £25 order from our bookshop

In his own age, John Dee’s was a name to conjure with, as it is in ours. To say that he led a remarkable existence is an understatement of some order. Born six years before his most consistent (and consistently unreliable) patron, Elizabeth I, he also outlived her by six years. Over the course of his long life he established a reputation as Renaissance England’s most famous ‘magus’, and he was received not only at the royal court of Elizabeth but at that of the mercurial Habsburg emperor, Rudolph II. In his own mind, Dee was a master of occult (hidden) knowledge, an inspired visionary, with schemes for unlocking the secrets of nature and reunifying a divided Christendom. To his critics (and there were many), he was a disreputable conjuror, if not a dealer with evil spirits.

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

    • 'Ideas that I’d thought were set down in full continue to smoulder ... this book is only a snapshot of some larger… ,
    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,
    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,
    • RT : One of my favourite literary magazines is celebrating 40 years this year. Here is the September edition of… ,
    • 'Now that the Thames is too fast-flowing to freeze, its spirit’s devotees ... have found other climes for their pri… ,
    • 'Bythell glowers past his till at a world in slow free fall.' on the travails of a second-hand book… ,
    • 'It is a scent of animal wrath, of instinctive need, of brutal life which affects the cultured nostrils of our civi… ,