Press Release: Brief Lives
Edited by Oliver Lawson Dick
Introduced by Peter Conrad
Illustrated by Joe Ciardiello
‘One of the most enchanting books ever written’’
The Folio Society is delighted to announce publication of a new illustrated edition of John Aubrey’s eccentric masterpiece Brief Lives, a collection of witty, gossipy, utterly delightful portraits of the great figures of 16th- and 17th-century Britain.
Born into tumultuous times in 1626, Aubrey was a polymath dedicated to conserving history – much of the hearsay and scandal shared with him and his associates he took careful note of, and at his death he left behind a rich collection of writings on the great figures of his day. His swift portraits are good-natured and deliciously revealing, full of gossipy detail – what the maid said to Walter Ralegh as he seduced her against a tree in the garden makes it a must-read volume.
The son of a Wiltshire squire, he inherited the family estate only to become bankrupt, and from then on travelled constantly (‘It seems to me that between the years 1649 and 1670, I was never off horseback’), living in coffee houses and relying on the hospitality of friends. He was a pioneering archaeologist and antiquary, he loved astrology but also the latest scientific advances, and was a member of the Royal Society alongside Newton, Hooke and Boyle.
Aubrey left behind 60 volumes of material, which Oliver Lawson Dick heroically arranged and edited into this definitive volume, as well as writing a biographical portrait of Aubrey himself to include alongside his subjects. In his introduction Peter Conrad writes with affection about a true English eccentric who had a deep and abiding interest in other people. Joe Ciardiello’s exuberant illustrations include many witty portraits, scribbled with incidental detail and revealing context. Like Aubrey’s biographies, they step past the pages of history and reveal not distant figures but real people who once lived, warts and all.
Quarter-bound in buckram with Modigliani paper sides, printed with a design by the
artist. Set in Columbus. 456 pages with a black & white illustrated title-page spread and
13 black & white illustrations; 4 colour illustrations. 9½” x 6¼”.
UK £34.95 US $56.95 Can $74.95 Aus $ 74.95
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US & Canada
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