400 Years of Melancholising

Robert Burton’s encyclopedic curiosity The Anatomy of Melancholy continues to offer remarkable insights into mental health.

Melancholia. Engraving by Sebald Beham, 1539.
Melancholia. Engraving by Sebald Beham, 1539 © Bridgeman Images.

The Oxford scholar Robert Burton completed his first and only book on 5 December 1620. Even as he did so, he was on the defensive, anticipating criticism: ‘I like it, so doth he, thou doest not, is it therefore unfit, absurd and ridiculous?’, he snaps in his Conclusion: ‘One man cannot express what every man thinks, or please all.’

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