Aubrey's Brief Lives

Aubrey's Brief Lives



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.


  • 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

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.
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