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Alchemy in Cambridge

An Annotated Catalogue of Alchemical Texts and Illustrations in Cambridge Repositories

Anke Timmermann

Alchemy in Cambridge captures the alchemical content of 56 manuscripts in Cambridge, in particular the libraries of Trinity College, Corpus Christi College and St John’s College, the University Library and the Fitzwilliam Museum. As such, this catalogue makes visible a large number of previously unknown or obscured alchemica. While extant bibliographies, including those by M.R. James a century ago, were compiled by polymathic bibliographers for a wide audience of researchers, Alchemy in Cambridge benefits from the substantial developments in the history of alchemy, bibliography, and related scholarship in recent decades. Many texts are here identified for the first time. Another vital feature is the incorporation of information on alchemical illustrations in the manuscripts, intended to facilitate research on the visual culture of alchemy. The catalogue is aimed at historians of alchemy and science, and of high interest to manuscript scholars, historians of art and historians of college and university libraries.

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Verse and Transmutation

A Corpus of Middle English Alchemical Poetry (Critical Editions and Studies)

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Anke Timmermann

Verse and Transmutation: A Corpus of Middle English Alchemical Poetry identifies and investigates a corpus of twenty-one anonymous recipes for the philosophers’ stone dating from the fifteenth century. These were circulated and received in association with each other until the mid-seventeenth century, when a number of them appeared in Elias Ashmole’s Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum.

These editions are the first to make this previously unidentified corpus available to researchers. The accompanying studies discover the complex histories of these alchemica, in plain and illuminated manuscripts, as anonyma and in attribution to famous authors, and in private and institutional, medical and academic book collections. Together, they offer novel insights into the role of alchemy and poetry in late medieval and early modern England.