ADDRESSES: Office—Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RH, England. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England, lecturer in department of history and philosophy of science, fellow of Pembroke College.
Medicine and Magic in Elizabethan London: Simon Forman, Astrologer, Alchemist, and Physician, Clarendon Press (Oxford, England), 2005.
Contributor to books, including Secrets of Nature, edited by Anthony Grafton and William Newman, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2001; and History of Science, History of the Book, edited by Marina Frasca-Spada and Nicholas Jardine, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 2000. Also contributor to Social History of Medicine.
SIDELIGHTS: Lauren Kassell is a university lecturer whose research interests include medicine, astrology, alchemy, and magic in early modern England. As a central figure of early modern England's astrological and medical scenes, Simon Forman is the focus of her first book, Medicine and Magic in Elizabethan London: Simon Forman, Astrologer, Alchemist, and Physician. Forman was an outcast from the established medical society at the time because of his belief that medicine should be based on magic, alchemy, and astrology. The estimated 15,000 pages of unpublished writings and casebooks he left behind, ranging from his medical practice and astrological records to works on surviving the plague and his personal sexuality, have allowed researchers and biographers to draw from a mass of materials to write about Forman. Unlike these other works, however, Kassell's "scholarly study" on the life and practices of Forman does not center on his sex life, according to Bill Bynum in the Lancet. Times Literary Supplement critic John North commented on how Kassell "considers the casebooks as exercises in astrology, but does not explain how unorthodox the astrology was." In comparing the author's book to other biographies, however, North believed that Kassell is "more disciplined."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Lancet, July 23, 2005, Bill Bynum, review of Medicine and Magic in Elizabethan London: Simon Forman, Astrologer, Alchemist, and Physician, p. 284.
Times Literary Supplement, September 2, 2005, John North, review of Medicine and Magic in Elizabethan London.
University of Cambridge, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, http://www.hps.cam.ac.uk/ (March 1, 2006), profile of Lauren Kassell.