Cloth $35.00 ISBN: 9780226710709 Will Publish June 2020
An e-book edition will be published.

The Experimental Fire

Inventing English Alchemy, 1300-1700

Jennifer M. Rampling

The Experimental Fire

Jennifer M. Rampling

416 pages | 19 halftones, 2 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2020
Cloth $35.00 ISBN: 9780226710709 Will Publish June 2020
E-book $35.00 ISBN: 9780226710846 Will Publish June 2020
In medieval and early modern Europe, the practice of alchemy promised extraordinary physical transformations. Who would not be amazed to see base metals turned into silver and gold, hard iron into soft water, and deadly poison into elixirs that could heal the human body? To defend such claims, alchemists turned to the past: scouring ancient books for evidence of a lost alchemical heritage—and seeking to translate their secret language and obscure imagery into replicable, practical effects.
 
Tracing the development of alchemy in England over four hundred years, from the beginning of the fourteenth century to the end of the seventeenth, Jennifer M. Rampling illuminates the role of alchemical reading and experimental practice in the broader context of national and scientific history. Using new manuscript sources, she shows how Roger Bacon, George Ripley, John Dee, Edward Kelley, and Isaac Newton, as well as many previously unknown alchemists, devised new practical approaches to alchemy, while seeking the support of English monarchs, including Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. By reconstructing their alchemical ideas, practices, and disputes, Rampling reveals how English alchemy was continually reinvented over the space of four centuries, resulting in changes to the science itself. In so doing, The Experimental Fire bridges the intellectual history of chemistry and the wider worlds of early modern patronage, medicine, and science.
Review Quotes
Stephen Clucas, Birkbeck, University of London
"This book has so many novel elements that it is difficult to know where to begin. Rampling presents one amazing archival discovery after another like a magician pulling rabbits from a hat. Forging vivid and compelling narratives with her materials, while remaining keenly aware of the living history behind the documents, she has been able to sketch the outlines of what has previously been entirely unknown to the history of alchemy. This is a fully achieved piece of research that is destined to become the key work in the field."
For more information, or to order this book, please visit https://www.press.uchicago.edu
Google preview here

Chicago Manual of Style

Keep Informed

JOURNALs