Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Marco Sgarbi

Digby, Kenelm

Born: 11 July 1603, Gayhurst, Buckinghamshire
Died: 11 June 1665, Covent Garden
  • Florence HazratEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-02848-4_416-1


Kenelm Digby was an English courtier, book collector, and natural philosopher, advancing in particular the fields of chemistry and biology. He carried on his service to the state beside his scientific experimentation and a lively involvement in the international intellectual life of his time. Digby is a transitional figure, attempting to synthesize Aristotelian traditions on the body and the soul with modern developments of atomism and mechanical physics. Among his various commentaries and treatises, his “On the body” (published 1644), especially the pioneering chapters on embryology, was most influential.

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Primary Literature

  1. 1661. A discourse concerning the vegetation of plants. London.Google Scholar
  2. George Hartmann. 1682. A choice collection of rare secrets. London.Google Scholar
  3. 1868. Journal of a voyage into the Mediterranean, ed. John Bruce. London.Google Scholar
  4. 1827. Private memoirs of Sir Kenelm Digby, gentleman of the bedchamber to King Charles the first, Written by himself. London.Google Scholar
  5. 1645. Two treatises in the one of which the nature of bodies, in the other, the nature of mans soule is looked into in way of discovery of the immortality of reasonable soules. London.Google Scholar

Secondary Literature

  1. Aubrey, John. 1898. In Brief lives, chiefly of contemporaries, set down by John Aubrey, between the years 1669 and 1696, ed. A. Clark, vol. 1. London.Google Scholar
  2. Foster, M. 2009. Digby, Sir Kenelm (1603–1665), natural philosopher and courtier. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed.Google Scholar
  3. Fulton, John. 1960. Sir Kenelm Digby, F.R.S. (1603–1665). Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 15: 199–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Janacek, Bruce. 2000. Catholic natural philosophy: Alchemy and the revivification of Sir Kenelm Digby. In Rethinking the scientific revolution, ed. Margaret Osler. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Moshenska, Joe. 2016. A stain in the blood: The remarkable voyage of Sir Kenelm Digby. London: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  6. Rubin, Davida. 1991. Sir Kenelm Digby, F.R.S., 1603–1665: A bibliography. San Francisco: Jeremy Norman.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CambridgeUK

Section editors and affiliations

  • Marco Sgarbi
    • 1
  1. 1.University Ca' Foscari VeniceVeniceItaly