The Life of Thomas Linacre

The full title of this book is The Life of Thomas Linacre, Doctor in Medicine, Physician to King Henry VIII, the Tutor and Friend of Sir Thomas More, and the Founder of the College of Physicians in London with Memoirs of His Contemporaries, and of the Rise and Progress of Learning, More Particularly from the Ninth to the Sixteenth Century Inclusive.

(And people wonder why it is no longer in print!)

I highlighted Thomas Linacre yesterday, and I have to say that he led a wildly interesting life for the son of relatively unknown parents from Derbyshire.

This book, the only biography of Linacre I have been able to find, was written by John Noble Johnson, M.D., who was himself a member of the Royal College of Physicians which Linacre had founded. Pretty much the only thing we know about Dr. Johnson is that he wrote a biography of Linacre, so this is a matter of the unknown writing about the slightly less unknown.

I can’t say Johnson’s prose is anything approaching elegant, but at least it is succinct. He did live in an age when flowery, overwrought language was fairly typical.

This is just one of my most recent finds on Google Books. Google has footed the bill for scanning millions of out-of-print volumes to make them available to people online. It is estimated that by 2016, Google Books and other similar programs (such as the French Gallica project) will succeed in scanning all volumes available from both universities and major museums throughout the world – both printed and manuscript.

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