Nature's Alchemist: John Parkinson - Herbalist to Charles I
London Francis Lincoln 2008
256pp illus. Small 4to. Attractive bright yellow dust wrapper. Useful assessment of this key figure and author of the beautiful "Paradisi in Sole Paradisus Terrestris". His lifelong passion for plants was intimately bound up with the new dawn of scientific enquiry and the struggles of faith. The book follows him from a humble childhood in Lancashire to a career as an apothecary in London which would bring him to high office under Charles I. It investigates how he tried, with his medical colleagues, to create a new 'common wealth' to replace the old monastic system, vesting his effort in writing the most comprehensive and scientific herbal there had ever been in English. Yet as a Catholic he kept a low profile, quietly growing an extraordinary range of flowers for 'delight and pleasure' in his notable garden in Covent Garden.