> Skip to content
About the book
  • Published: 7 April 2016
  • ISBN: 9781784870331
  • Imprint: Vintage Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 560
  • RRP: $22.99
Categories:

Aubrey's Brief Lives




The ground-breaking book that invented modern biography - elegant, vivid and deeply entertaining

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY RUTH SCURR

John Aubrey was a modest man, a self-styled antiquarian and the man who invented modern biography. His ‘lives’ of the prominent figures of his generation and the Elizabethan era, including Shakespeare, Milton and Sir Walter Raleigh, have been plundered by historians for centuries for their frankness and fascinating detail. Collected here are all of Aubrey’s biographical writings, a series of unforgettable portraits of the characters of his day, still more alive and kicking than in any conventional work of history.

  • Pub date: 7 April 2016
  • ISBN: 9781784870331
  • Imprint: Vintage Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 560
  • RRP: $22.99

About the Author

John Aubrey

Born 12th March 1626 in Wiltshire, antiquary and biographer John Aubrey was the eldest surviving son of an affluent family. Having experienced a lonely childhood he later immersed himself in society, associating with many of the most distinguished figures of his time. He documented their lives in unique accounts, contained in manuscripts which were deposited in the Ashmolean Museum by the antiquary Anthony Wood in 1693. He had a keen interest in archaeology and is credited with a number of significant discoveries in Britain, including the ruins of Avebury, and the ring of chalk pits at Stonehenge which bear his name. He died 7th June 1697 and is buried in the churchyard of St Mary Magdalen in Oxford.


Praise for Aubrey's Brief Lives

“I love John Aubrey's Brief Lives because they are funny - full of gaps, anecdotes and profundities all mixed up, as lives are”

Rosemary Hill, Guardian

“I was hooked. Rapier-sharp, elegantly phrased, and without a dull or wasted word”

Christina Hardyment, Independent

“You can almost smell and taste 17th-century England”

Tim Flannery, Guardian

“These aren’t po-faced accounts: the joy of Brief Lives is its irreverence... [Aubrey] never kept a diary or account of his days and so the biographer Ruth Scurr, who has written the introduction to this new edition, wrote one for him. John Aubrey: My Own Life was published last year; read the books side-by-side”

The Times

“These vivid and entertaining sketches justify Ruth Scurr's claim that Aubrey was "one of the finest English prose-writers there has ever been"”

Scotsman

“Aubrey's impressions of his countrymen, rapidly scribbled in ''pocket memorandum bookes,'' bring us closer than any work of history to the texture of life in the Elizabethan Age”

New York Times

“Consider John Aubrey's Brief Lives, written in the lee of the civil war. If published today, its zany mix of biography and autobiography, gossip and scholarship would be hailed as wonderfully postmodern”

Guardian

“John Aubrey's Brief Lives are of little use for their facts, which biographers often correct, but as collections of anecdotes they are irreplaceable”

Guardian

“[An] irresistible grab-bag of more than 200 brief memoranda of 17th-century notables”

Washington Post

“A charming, informative and hilarious read – I heartily recommend Brief Lives to those history lovers who have yet to read it”

The Bookbag

“Invented biography as we know it”

Sunday Telegraph

“There are gems to be found throughout the work and in Aubrey’s own life, too. He never kept a diary or account of his days and so the biographer Ruth Scurr, who has written the introduction to this new edition, wrote one for him. John Aubrey: My Own Life was published last year; read the books side-by-side.”

Fiona Wilson, Times Online

“Aubrey, a self-effacing, modest man, was a brilliant oral historian, who treasured the minutiae of everyday life”

Guardian


Related titles