City Readers Digital Historic Collections at the New York Society Library
Winthrop Collection: John Dee
John Dee (1527 – 1609) was an English astrologer, mathematician, occult philosopher, and advisor to Queen Elizabeth I, who devoted much of his life to the study of alchemy and divination. Dee did not find his pursuit of mathematics and astronomy to be at odds with his quest to commune with angels and his pursuit of magic. He considered all of his activities to relate to the same task: the search for a transcendent understanding of the divine forms which underlie the visible world.
John Winthrop, Jr. (1606 – 1676) was a physician and the first governor of Connecticut, with a variety of interests. Similarly to John Dee, Winthrop devoted his life to the study of several fields, including law, medicine, religion, the sciences, and alchemy in particular. During this period, many viewed alchemy as a practical art as well as a means of spiritual transformation.
During his lifetime, Winthrop amassed one of the largest libraries in the colonies. Among his collection were several books once belonging to John Dee. The New York Society Library owns three of these books, given as a gift from Winthrop’s descendants in the early nineteenth century. Please click through the three titles available below, and delve into the worlds of John Dee and John Winthrop, Jr.