A spellbinding portrait of Queen Elizabeth's conjurer - the great philosopher, scientist and magician Dr John Dee (1527-1608) and a history of Renaissance science.
John Dee was one of the most influential scientists of the Elizabethan age. Dee was the first in England to promote mathematics as the basis of science, anticipated the invention of the telescope and many of Newton's theories, made crucial innovations in cartography and the art of navigation, and created one of the most magnificent libraries in Europe. His travel, scholasticism, his access to rare texts and Europe's leading thinkers, allowed him to open up to the English court the intellectual riches of the time.
At the height of his fame, Dee was poised - like Copernicus and Galileo - to become one of the great figures of the Renaissance. Yet John Dee died in poverty and obscurity; his crime was to dabble in the occult. Others - including Newton and Tycho Brahe - sought to understand magic, but Dee seemed to possess its power. He could interpret ancient mystical tests, create potent compounds using alchemy, perform miracles with machines and see the future. His experiments led him to pledge everything in a Faustian pact in return for the chance to explore the spirit world himself.
Based on Dee's secret diaries which record minutely his experiments with the occult and communications with angels, Ben Woolley's biography is an epic portrait of Dee's perilous quest for knowledge, set against the edgy paranoid world of Elizabethan England and of Rudolf's Holy Roman Empire. An epic and irresistible combination of biography, history, science, espionage, exploration and the occult, this Tudor world of "redye reckonynges" and alchemy has never felt so close or so dangerous.