Dr Simon Forman A Most Notorious Physician PDF/EPUB

Dr Simon Forman A Most Notorious Physician ’Simon Forman A Most Notorious Physician’ is written by Judith Cook who wrote a book I very much enjoyed about the community of writers in the 17th century called ‘Roaring Boys’Simon Foreman was a physician in the late 17th century who practiced despite not having all the official training and none of the official paperwork He focused largely on astrologicalhumoral causes of illness and largely proscribed changes in lifestyle diet and various concoctions of herbs though sometimes it could become a little peculiar like burnt dog mess He also slept with many of his patients even after he had married We know all this because he kept a diary and detailed case notes There are definite links between the worlds of players and Dr Forman Both lived and worked south of the Thames where they were safe from much of interference from the City of London Not only that but Forman had many theatrical people in his casebooks from actors managers and even the woman who some like Rowe propose to be Shakespeare’s dark ladyWhat the book succeeds in doing is paint a picture of the world and something of the character of Forman himselfSimon Forman is not portrayed simply as a cynical hack but an optimistic man with a fierce desire for knowledge He fought for knowledge his whole life being constantly turned away from it by life Everything he learns he does it by determined effort That a lot of his knowledge seems silly to us now lessons of astrology and humoral theory is irrelevant in an age where ueen Elizabeth would consult Dr Dee he mastered what there was to know Not only that the extensive use of documenting the many casebooks and the written additions he made in the books he read means that he at least tried to systematise his knowledge and rely on what worked for him We can pick out the funny cures but a lot of what he proscribed was common sense or at the very least not harmful in itself Despite all this Forman is not an angel He is vain as someone who wrote so much about himself has to be he was fond of showing off he could treat his closest relationships with an unusual coldness and he slept around a lot The codeword he used for this was ‘halek’ There is a lot of haleking going on in this book even after he was married In some ways he reminds me of Samuel Pepys who came about fifty years after Both men had a drive to know both had full social lives both had irresponsible and sometimes just cruel sexual lives and both recorded themselves voraciously Forman wrote that a man was beyond old age when he hit his 50s with such a short lifespan a lust for life seems a noble thingAlthough the book was concise well written and full of interesting detail there was a feeling that in relying on the diaries so much it becomes a little monotonous Even diaries by the best diarists are a bit of a slog as reading a life in that form feels like one thing after another I’d have liked a little shaping in the tellingAll that aside this was a fantastic book and I recommend anyone to find out a little bit about this fascinating individual in whatever way they can Simon Foreman was a 'uack' doctor living in London during Shakespeare's time Although constantly being arrested and penalised by the authorities for his unorthodox practices which is uite amusing given how primitive 'normal' Elizabethan medicine was he believed in what he did and always managed to claw his way back He eventually became a successful and famous physician with a large clientele of often well known people including one of the players in Shakespeare's company of actors so he would undoubtedly have known the bard himself Foreman kept extensive and detailed notes and records about all his patients as well as many journals The journals are famous for their explicit 'halek' notes halek being a code word for sex in which he describes his many sexual encounters often with female patients A fascinating read with plenty of anecdotes about the Elizabethan court as well as everyday life in London The mundane becomes the extraordinary to someone reading it 400 years later Once you've read this you'll never complain about the NHS again This is a promising but vague account of an Elizabethan uack who kept Pepys like records of his philandering and a decent diary I picked this up because 1 I like the intersection of alchemy and the birth of real science and 2 in flipping through it at the store I noted a first cousin 14 times removed was one of Forman's patients I didn't learn anything new about either unfortunately The notes are inadeuate and useless unless you can read the original material at the Ashmolean I understand the author also wrote a novel about the man I wish she'd taken all the extra adverbs from this book and put them there Simon Forman was one of the most extraordinary personalities of Elizabethan and Jacobean LondonCharismatic volatile and ambitious he was doctor to the giants of the theatre and his 'playbook' contains the first eye witness accounts of Shakespeare's plays Like most doctors he was also an astrologer reading the stars for all and sundryConstantly on the fringes of great events and court intrigues his name has been linked with Sir Walter Raleigh's mysterious group 'the School of Night' and with the notorious Overbury poisoning case in which the beautiful Countess of Essex was accused of murderAlso uncovered is Forman's private world that of a compulsive womaniser who kept a coded diary never fully deciphered before a record of promiscuity as colourful as the journals of Pepys and Boswell

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About the Author: Judith Cook

Judith Cook was a lecturer in theatre at the University of Exeter She wrote several mysteries based on the casebooks of Dr Simon Forman an Elizabethan doctor and astrologer