Sir Thomas Browne

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Browne, Sir Thomas,

1605–82, English author and physician, b. London, educated at Oxford and abroad, knighted (1671) by Charles II. His Religio Medici, in which Browne attempted to reconcile science and religion, was written about 1635. After circulating in manuscript, it was first published in a pirated edition (1642); an authorized edition followed (1643). Inspired by the discovery of funeral urns near Norwich, he wrote Hydriotaphia: Urn Burial (1658), a solemn reflection on death and immortality, in which he expressed a belief in the futility of things here on earth. Published with Urn Burial was the more optimistic The Garden of Cyrus, a work devoted to the mystic symbolism of the number five. Browne's philosophy is now primarily of historical interest. It is the quality of his faith and, particularly, his elegant mode of expression that make him one of the outstanding figures in the history of English literature. His other notable works are Pseudodoxia Epidemica (1646), commonly known as Vulgar Errors, and Christian Morals (1716). Browne coined more than 750 English words including electricity, medical, hallucination, and ferocious.


See edition of his works (ed. by G. Keynes, 6 vol., 1928–31); biographies by J. S. Finch (1950) and J. F. Post (1987); biographical study by H. Aldersey-Williams (2015); studies by J. Bennett (1962), L. Nathanson (1967), and C. A. Patrides, ed. (1982).

References in periodicals archive ?
RAIL: I was thinking of Sir Thomas Browne when he was writing about the urn burials--his "Hydriotapia." You also get that nostalgia in John Keats's, "Ode on a Grecian Urn," and Shelley's "Ozymandias."
In The Miscellaneous Writings of Sir Thomas Browne. Ed.
"The Styles of Sir Thomas Browne:' In Seventeenth-Century Prose: Modern Essays in Criticism.
Lyttelton compiled the manuscript in at least two main phases, given slight differences in her penmanship (her earlier entries are neater and in lighter ink): these earlier entries consist primarily of religious verse, Englished extracts from the classics, proverbial couplets, and fragments from Sir Thomas Browne's writing.
Born in 1644, Edward was the son of Sir Thomas Browne (author of Religio Medici) and had just finished his time at Trinity College, Cambridge by acquiring a medical degree.
Sir Thomas Browne Jonathan Hadary His Soul Anika Noni Rose Dame Dorothy Browne Shelley Williams Babbo Sloane Shelton Maccabbee Rod Gnapp Dr.
He begins with 'Sir', and his top author is Sir Thomas Browne with 3,851 quotations in a total of 17,400 quotations from works by men whose name was preceded by 'Sir'.
Gerarde speaks of it as the 'gelly of the Elder'.(5) And Sir Thomas Browne in Pseudodoxia Epidemica,(6) calls it 'an excresence about the roots of Elder', explaining that by vulgar error it is named a jew's ear from Judas Iscariot, who was supposed to have hanged himself on an elder tree.
Later writers who most nearly recall the charm of Montaigne include, in England, Robert Burton, though his whimsicality is more erudite, Sir Thomas Browne, and Laurence Sterne, and in France, with more self-consciousness and pose, Andre Gide and Jean Cocteau.
The book's epigraph from Sir Thomas Browne's Urn Burial says it nicely: "The long habit of living indisposeth us for dying."
What was so rare about him was his sense of dissident national identity: he belonged to the England of the Elizabethan philosopher/astrologer John Dee, of the 17th-century diarist and antiquarian John Evelyn and the mystic and medical man Sir Thomas Browne, and of the metaphysical poets--John Donne, George Herbert, Henry Vaughan.
As his American Notes testifies, Hawthorne had found the germ of his story in Sir Thomas Browne's Vulgar Errors.