Dr Simon Forman by Judith Cook
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Dr Simon Forman
By Judith Cook

Dr Simon Forman

A Most Notorious Physician

By (author) See other recent books by Judith Cook
Format: Paperback

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Dr Simon Forman by Judith Cook

Book Description

Simon Forman was one of the most extraordinary personalities of Elizabethan and Jacobean London. Charismatic, volatile and ambitious, he was doctor to the giants of the theatre and his 'playbook' contains the first eye-witness accounts of Shakespeare's plays. Like most doctors he was also an astrologer, reading the stars for all and sundry. Constantly on the fringes of great events and court intrigues, his name has been linked with Sir Walter Raleigh's mysterious group, 'the School of Night' and with the notorious Overbury poisoning case, in which the beautiful Countess of Essex was accused of murder. Also uncovered is Forman's private world, that of a compulsive womaniser who kept a coded diary, never fully deciphered before, a record of promiscuity as colourful as the journals of Pepys and Boswell.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099289623
ISBN-10: 0099289628
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 130mm x 16mm)
Pages: 240
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 7-Mar-2002
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions...

Books By Author Judith Cook

Roaring Boys by Judith Cook Roaring Boys, Paperback (April 2006)

With the help of anecdotes, this book aims to recreate the lives and times of the playwrights and actors such as, Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, and Jonson, as well as the world in which they lived from 1578 when Burbage built the first 'purpose built' theatre to 1620 when the great age came to its end.

Pirate Queen the Life of Grace O'Malley by Judith Cook Pirate Queen the Life of Grace O'Malley, Paperback (January 2004)

Best selling biography of Grace O'Malley, infamous Irish Chieftain, pirate, trader and seafarer.

J.B. Priestley by Judith Cook J.B. Priestley, Paperback (October 1998)

A biography of J B Priestley, covering his relationships with his three wives, children and other women and friendships with figures such as H G Wells, Clement Attlee, Harold Wilson, Charlie Chaplin and Groucho Marx.

» View all books by Judith Cook


UK Kirkus Review » Simon Forman has lived a shadowy existence in the margins of historical and literary studies for centuries now. If for no other reason, he would be important as the man who provides us with the first reliable accounts of some of Shakespeare's plays. His writings were also the source for A L Rowse's characteristically tendentious claim to have identified the Dark Lady of the Sonnets as Emilia Lanier. What Cook shows in her splendidly readable book is that Forman in fact has considerable importance in his own right. He was, in his combination of roguishness and intellectual seriousness, in his obsession with astrology and contemporary medicine, an emblematic figure of an extraordinary age. Whether he is casting horoscopes or mixing potions for his consultations - and he frequently did both simultaneously - or probing the gynaecological problems of his female patients, there is a ceaselessly inquisitive mind at work. The word 'probing' here is not accidental, for a consultation with a female patient very often didn't stop with the disposition of the stars and the requisite tinctures. As he makes abundantly clear he is often sought for, and frequently succeeded in, 'haleking' them. It is not necessary to be a master of crypto-analysis to work out what he meant. He does seem to have haleked an extraordinary number. These days he'd be struck off the medical register, assuming he'd ever got on it. Forman's London, like that of Pepys or Boswell, thrives in all its disreputableness. It shouts and dances and stinks. We are treated to an account of how Forman carefully plants sweet-smelling camomile 'near to the privy', to make the journeyings there seem less insalubrious. Cook's book is both a superb biography in its own right and a very good introduction to Elizabethan medicine, with its constant, curious cross-overs into astrology. She is perhaps unduly sympathetic to some of Rowse's clamorous assertions, and a little over-confident in her statements about the School of Night, the intellectual circle around Sir Walter Raleigh - both the name and even the existence of which remain conjectural - but these are minor faults in a highly enjoyable and richly-researched book. Review by ALAN WALL (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - Judith Cook

Judith Cook spent the first part of her career as an investigative journalist. She wrote several non-fiction books on social issues, including an investigation into the death of the anti-nuclear compaigner Hilda Murrell. She was herself a political and anti-nuclear campaigner. She also wrote biographies of Daphne du Maurier and J. B. Priestley, a popular historical fiction series and theatre scripts. She later taught Elizabethan and Jacobean studies at Exeter University. She died in May 2004.

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