John Aubrey

1626 (Easton Piercy, England) – 1697 (Oxford)

Aubrey, a pioneer biographer and student of ancient monuments, was as busy an intellectual bee as anyone in 17th C England. He met the much older Hobbes aged eight, staying friends for life; Hobbes, Hooke, Wren and Ward were among his closest friends. Harvey advised him to read Aristotle, Cicero and Avicenna, but warned that the Neoteric poets were “shitt-breeches”. Newton wrote as an affectionate friend – among many other correspondents were Ray, Wallis and Willis. Aubrey helped Shadwell carry a coffin, connected with Wilkins’ experimentalist circle, and was described as “as mad as anyone… in the University of Bedlam”.

John Aubrey knew…