William Camden

November 2007
1 black and white illustrations
550 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843831266
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press

William Camden

A Life in Context

Wyman H. Herendeen

A comprehensive analysis of the life of William Camden (1581-1623), historian, herald, and leading literary figure of the Elizabethan period and of the context in which he lived.
William Camden [1551-1623] was one of the most notable historians of the Elizabethan period; his works include Britannia the first description of Britain county by county. A herald by profession, he moved in the literary and political circles of London in an age when history and the study of the past interacted with present politics, and was well-connected with many leading figures of the time; his involvement with the precursor of what is now the Society of Antiquaries of London is of especial importance.

This book provides the first major analytical biography of Camden's life and career since that of Thomas Smith in 1691. It offers a comprehensive analysis of Camden's life and of the context in which he lived, including in its great scope a wide range of aspects of English and European learned culture during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries; and examines the nature of his extraordinary impact on writers both of his own and later generations.

WYMAN H. HERENDEEN is Professor and Department Chair in the Department of English at the University of Houston, Texas.

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Table of Contents

Death and Life of a Minor Figure
A London Life: the Educator's Education
Religious Conflict and Coming of Age at Oxford
The Way to Westminster
Westminster and the Britannia
Antiquarians, Historians and the Economy of the Past
Arms and the Man- Antiquarian in the College of Arms
Culture Clash - Elizabethan in Stuart London
Post-Mortem: the Death and Afterlives of William Camden


Herendeen has rendered a notable service to scholarship with his new book, for he has furnished a life for a man we scarcely knew, even though his works are among the most distinctive scholarly productions of their time. As Camden restored antiquity to Britain, Herendeen has restored Camden to posterity. ROYAL STUART JOURNAL
This magisterial study will satisfy historians and literary critics who wish to deepen their understanding of Camden's achievements, as well as those who wish to see some clichés about the man and his work rethought. This book will be an invaluable resource for graduate students or others not yet familiar with Camden but who need to understand his significance for the period. Portions of this book should be standard reading for anyone studying the mass of historical activity and the dynamic historical imagination of early modern England. SIXTEENTH CENTURY JOURNAL
One of the most important books ever written about William Camden. There will be worthwhile debate about how Herendeen positions Camden in the early modern English historiographical landscape and we should all be grateful that he has taken the trouble to reveal Camden the man: a far more interesting figure than most of us (or I, at least) ever imagined. SEVENTEENTH CENTURY NEWS
A sympathetic and important study. This is a large and elegantly-written book that will provide future scholars of Camden and his environment with plenty of grist. RENAISSANCE QUARTERLY
Wyman Herendeen has done an excellent job in both disinterring the facts of Camden's career and constructing a portrait of him from the lives and culture of his intellectual circle. THE LITERARY REVIEW
Makes a major contribution to our understanding of the man and his intellectual world. BRITISH ARCHAEOLOGY