Robert Burton, 1577–1640

Portrait

Biographical note

Writer, born at Lindley, Leicestershire, and educated at Oxford, took orders, and became Vicar of St. Thomas, Oxford, 1616, and Rector of Segrave, Leicestershire, 1630. Subject to depression of spirits, he wrote as an antidote the singular book which has given him fame. The Anatomy of Melancholy, in which he appears under the name of Democritus Junior, was published in 1621, and had great popularity. In the words of Warton, “The author’s variety of learning, his quotations from rare and curious books, his pedantry sparkling with rude wit and shapeless elegance ... have rendered it a repertory of amusement and information.” It has also proved a store-house from which later authors have not scrupled to draw without acknowledgment. It was a favourite book of Dr. Johnson. Burton was a mathematician and dabbled in astrology. When not under depression he was an amusing companion, “very merry, facete, and juvenile,” and a person of “great honesty, plain dealing, and charity.”

[From A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature by John W. Cousin, 1910]

Works

  • The Anatomy of Melancholy
    What it is, with all the kinds, causes, symptoms, prognostics, and several cures of it. In three Partitions, with their several Sections, numbers, and subsections. Philosophically, medicinally, Historically, opened and cut up. By Democritus Junior. With a Satyrical Preface conducing to the following Discourse.
© 2014 The University of Adelaide
Last Modified 16/02/2014
CRICOS Provider Number 00123M
find us on facebook

Service Charter | Copyright | Privacy | Disclaimer