The Autobiography of Sir Thomas Bodley
Sometimes regarded as the first autobiography in English, and more recently cited as the forerunner of the modern political memoir, The Life of Sir Thomas Bodley is the fascinating account of a sixteenth-century diplomat and founder of one of the most renowned libraries in the world, the Bodleian Library.
From Bodley’s early education in Calvinist Switzerland to his studies at Oxford and his later career as one of Queen Elizabeth’s elite ambassadors, The Life of Sir Thomas Bodley is a rare look at the life of a thoroughly European man. And as a self-justifying apologia, it is also of interest for the activities Bodley omits. Bodley concluded the autobiography with the famous intent, “to set up my Staffe at the Library doore in Oxford,” an objective he pursued vigorously, ensuring his continued fame.
Written in a fine classical style, this new volume contains an introduction and notes designed to contextualize the book, including early readers’ reactions and an explanation of the circumstances surrounding its original publication in 1647.
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