A Renaissance Curiosity

In J.K. Rowling’s novel Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, a quick-thinking Harry saves his best friend’s life by making him swallow a bezoar stone—a calcification from the stomach of a goat or other ruminant. Harry believed, as did many Renaissance doctors, that the stone served as a universal antidote … Continue reading

Empowering the Earl of Leicester

The Huntington possesses an astonishing Elizabethan-era illuminated manuscript, dating from 1567, entitled Heroica Eulogia. Containing a series of vignettes of earls and kings, it is an exquisite volume that combines paintings, coats of arms, Latin poems, 14 distinctive styles of handwriting, and historical documents. Its author (although “producer” might be … Continue reading

Advancing the Humanities

The Huntington and the University of California, Riverside, have selected the first two fellows for the highly competitive Huntington-UC Program for the Advancement of the Humanities, a partnership designed to boost the humanities at public universities. The program currently supports scholars whose research areas are focused on 18th-century studies and on the history … Continue reading

Robbery and Rats in 17th-Century Jamaica

Archival research involves thousands of tiny discoveries, while writing history requires putting those fragments together into a coherent whole. The process, often tedious, can occasionally be exhilarating. Every once in a great while a researcher discovers a gem. I had such an experience as I was researching the mid-17th-century English … Continue reading

Thomas Pennant’s Literary Appeal

Asked to name the most famous European naturalists of the 18th century, most scholars would probably choose Sweden’s Carl Linnaeus and France’s Georges-Louis Leclerc, comte de Buffon. One figure often overshadowed by these contemporaries but deserving further attention is the British naturalist Thomas Pennant (1726–1798). I’ve been researching how British … Continue reading