FRIAR BACON – The Famous History of Fryer Bacon. London: E. Cotes, sold by Thomas Passinger, 1666.
4° (183 x 129mm). Collation: A-G4 (A1 and G4 blank, present here). Title woodcut, type-ornament headpiece, initial. (Title with small hole, author’s name added, and woodcut just shaved.)
Early 20th-century green morocco by Sangorski and Sutcliffe, single gilt fillet border, gilt edges.
Rare prose romance based on the legendary magical powers of Roger Bacon which derived from his knowledge of science. His ‘perspective glass’ was a powerful weapon as well as scientific instrument, and his Marvelous speaking Brazen head featured repeatedly in Elizabethan drama.
The Famous History is a major source for Robert Greene’s play, Friar Bacon and Friar Bongay, with which it is often confused. The title woodcut was used by Elizabeth Allde in her editions of the history and play of 1629 and 1630, respectively, and may depict a Stuart stage set (Act II, sc. iii), showing Bacon with the Brazen head speaking.
All early editions are rare.
ESTC cites only 2 copies of the present, sixth edition, and of the previous five editions all but the third is known in one copy only (two imperfect). Wing F-372.