Richard YeoMay 14, 2014
Notebooks, English Virtuosi, and Early Modern Science
University of Chicago 2014
During the Great Fire of London in September 1666, Samuel Pepys went out to the garden and dug some holes. There he placed his documents, some wine, and "my parmezan cheese" for safekeeping as the buildings and streets of his city were licked and then consumed by flames. We know this thanks to a diary in which he recorded these burnings and burials. In his new book, Richard Yeo contextualizes the diary-keeping and document-organizing practices of men like Pepys within a rich, detailed account of notes and note-taking among early modern English virtuosi. Notebooks, English Virtuosi, and Early Modern Science (University of Chicago Press, 2014) offers a fascinating glimpse into practices of information management as they allowed English scholars to bridge text and memory, print media and manuscripts, journals and commonplace books, reading and observation, the individual and the collective. Yeo's book explores the relationship between early modern methods of collecting and storing information and the larger project of Baconian natural history, paying special attention to the ways that Bacon and several Fellows of the Royal Society used notebooks and other note-keeping technologies. Beyond this, Notebooks, English Virtuosi, and Early Modern Science is also deeply embedded in the history of memory and its (dis)contents, and engages (especially in a chapter on Samuel Hartlib and his circle) the historiography of epistolary networks and early modern histories of correspondence. Enjoy!