Robert Burton, Scholar 1577-1640

In 1593 Robert Burton matriculated as a student at Brasenose, where his elder brother William was already a student. By 1599 Robert had moved to Christ Church College, and was awarded his B.A. in 1602. He was to remain a Student at Christ Church for the rest of his life, and was vicar of St. Thomas' Oxford from 1616. He also held the livings of Walesby in Lincolnshire 1624-1631 and Seagrave, Leicestershire, 1631-1640, but curates carried out the duties of these parishes.

His most famous work is The Anatomy of Melancholy, subtitled What it is, With all the kinds, causes, symptomes, prognostickes and severall cures of it. First published in 1621, the work went through five editions in his lifetime and has since been hailed both as an extraordinary piece of English prose and as a major early work of cognitive science.

The Brasenose portrait of Robert Burton by Gilbert Jackson is available to view at ArtUK. Burton bequeathed his book collection to the Bodleian Library.


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