The Correspondence of Dr. Martin Lister (1639-1712). Volume One: 1662-1677


Winner of the 2017 John Thackray Medal awarded by the Society for the History of Natural History, U.K.

Martin Lister (1639–1712) was a consummate virtuoso, the first arachnologist and conchologist, and a Royal physician. As one of the most prominent corresponding fellows of the Royal Society, many of Lister’s discoveries in natural history, archaeology, medicine, and chemistry were printed in the Philosophical Transactions. Lister corresponded extensively with explorers and other virtuosi such as John Ray, who provided him with specimens, observations, and locality records from Jamaica, America, Barbados, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and his native England. This volume of ca. 400 letters (one of three), consists of Lister’s correspondence dated from 1662 to 1677, including his time as a Cambridge Fellow, his medical training in Montpellier, and his years as a practicing physician in York.
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Biographical Note

Anna Marie Roos, Ph.D. (1997), University of Colorado, is senior lecturer at the University of Lincoln. A Fellow of the Linnean Society and the Society of Antiquaries, she has published three monographs, and many articles concerning early modern history of science and medicine, including Web of Nature: Martin Lister (1639-1712), the First Arachnologist (Brill, 2011).

Review Quote

Roos [...] provides complete, fresh transcriptions of the letters involved; she also for the first time provides English translations of the many written in Latin, together with detailed annotations concerning the letters’ content, including learned elucidation of the botanical and zoological descriptions to be found in them. Also notable are the many letters from Lister’s contacts in Yorkshire, where he was domiciled for much of the period in his life that this volume covers, including men like the artist William Lodge, the landowner and Fellow of the Royal Society Sir John Brooke, and such enthusiasts for natural philosophy as the country doctor Nathaniel Johnstone and the former radical preacher John Webster, for whose 1677 tome on witchcraft Lister helped to obtain an imprimatur from the Royal Society. In conjunction with the family letters that are also included, the result is to give us a fascinating view of Lister’s milieu. Michael Hunter, in: Isis, volume 107, number 2 (2016), p. 365-372.

Table of contents

Acknowledgements Calendar of the Lister Correspondence Section 1: Introduction a. An introduction to the letters (16621677) b. Lister’s biography (16391677): a summary c. Lister’s correspondence in historical context d. A note on the Ray letters e. Stylistic considerations Section II: The Lister Correspondence (16621677) Bibliography Index


All interested in the early modern history of science and medicine, the history of the Royal Society, and natural historians.