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The Anatomy of Melancholy was written in 1621 by the English Oxford University scholar Robert Burton (8 February 1577 – 25 January 1640). The book is presented as a medical textbook in which Burton applies his vast and varied learning, to the subject of melancholia, in writing the work he described his attempts to distract himself from being a lifelong sufferer from depression by academic and scholarly pursuits. In this vein the book examines in encyclopedic detail the period malady of melancholy, Burton in the same fashion as all medical thought in the Jacobean period, cited wild passions and despair as the cause of an excess of ‘black bile’. According to the ‘humour theory’ of 17th century medicine an excess or deficiency of any of four distinct bodily fluids in a person directly influences their temperament and health. The four humors are black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, and blood.

The Anatomy of Melancholy. 1621

  • Recreation of titlepages with added historical elements. Printed on watercolour paper with archival inks, and packaged in protective sheet. 5"x7"

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