Posts on August 2016
from Beyond the Reading Room

The Secret of Secrets and the History of Medicine

Pseudo-Aristotle. Secretum secretorum. Tr. Philip of Tripoli (fl. 2nd half of 13th c.) Italy, 14th c. Manuscript codex on vellum, 190 x 131mm.Latin. Mich. Ms. 202

Our featured book today is a fourteenth-century Latin manuscript of a medieval bestseller: the Secret of Secrets (Secretum secretorum). Wrongly attributed to Aristotle, and originally composed in Arabic in the eighth century, the content of this work has been gradually shaped, and changed, by scribes and translators throughout the centuries. From being conceived as a manual about kingship, it eventually became one of the most popular medical treatises in the Middle Ages.

A Happy 254th Birthday to "Queen Molly"!

Drawing of book with mounts and snake. Open pages read "HAPPY BIRTHDAY."

In 1824, Mary Randolph poured a lifetime's worth of experience as manager of a grand estate into a single unassuming volume of recipes and household hints. Arguably America's first regional cookbook, The Virginia House-wife represents decades of changing fortunes and evolving palates for the Randolphs, and indeed the whole country, in the years immediately proceeding the Revolutionary War.