Early British Swimming, 55 BC-AD 1719: With the First Swimming Treatise in English, 1595

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University of Exeter Press, 1983 - History - 215 pages

In 1857 Everard Digby, an extrovert Cambridge scholar, published the first scientific treatise on swimming – and one of the first on any modern sport. Six months later he was expelled from his college, and died in obscurity as a country parson. Nicholas Orme rehabilitates Digby as a great pioneer of the history of sport.

The book opens with a detailed history of swimming in Britain from the Romans to the sixteenth century, which is followed by an account of Digby’s life and work and its impact on swimming down to the eighteenth century.

The book also includes the first modern edition of Digby’s treatise, in the English version of 1595, with the 43 original illustrations.


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About the author (1983)

Nicholas Orme is Professor of History at the University of Exeter. His previous works included English Schools in the Middle ages (Methuen, 1973) and Education in the West of England (University of Exeter, 1976), and other books and articles on religion and education during the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

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