Sir Thomas Browne features on Radio 4's 'In Our Time' programme with Melvyn Bragg this Thursday 6 June 2019
Sir Thomas Browne features in Melvyn Bragg's
In Our Time
on BBC Radio 4 on Thursday 6 June 2019 at 9am
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the range, depth and style of Browne (1605-82), a medical doctor whose curious mind drew him to explore and confess his own religious views, challenge myths and errors in science and consider how humans respond to the transience of life. His first publication Religio Medici became famous throughout Europe and his openness about his religion, in that work, was noted as rare when others either kept quiet or professed orthodox views.
His most reprinted book Pseudodoxia Epidemica challenged popular ideas, whether about the existence of mermaids or if Adam had a navel, and his treatise Hydriotaphia or Urn Burial was a meditation on what matters to humans when handling the dead.
In 1923, Virginia Woolf wrote, "Few people love the writings of Sir Thomas Browne, but those that do are the salt of the earth." He also contributed more words to the English language than almost anyone, such as electricity, indigenous, medical, ferocious, carnivorous ambidextrous and migrant.
Professor of Renaissance Literature at Queen Mary, University of London
Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Professor of English at the University of York