Francis Bacon, Baron Verulam, Viscount St Albans


Burgoyne, Alnwick MS

Collotype Facsimile & Type Transcript of an Elizabethan Manuscript preserved at Alnwick Castle, ed. Frank J. Burgoyne (London, 1904)

Oxford Bacon

The Oxford Francis Bacon. Vol. IV, The Advancement of Learning, ed. Michael Kiernan (Oxford, 2000). Vol. VI, Philosophical Studies c.1611-c.1619, ed. Graham Rees (Oxford, 1996). Vol. XIII, The Instauratio magna: Last Writings, ed. Graham Rees (Oxford, 2000). Vol. XV, The Essayes or Counsels, Civill and Morall, ed. Michael Kiernan (Oxford, 2000).


The Works of Francis Bacon, ed. James Spedding, Robert Leslie Ellis, and Douglas Denon Heath, 14 vols (London, 1857-74).


In his various capacities as lawyer, politician, essayist, philosopher, and scientist, Bacon was among the most prolific, as well as among the most eminently placed, of English Renaissance writers, and his papers, and scribal copies of them, have survived in considerable numbers.

The Canon

Among Bacon's multifarious writings it is difficult, if not impossible, to isolate a clearly defined body of ‘literary’ works. For present purposes, the basic canon is taken to be that established in Spedding (although it is recognised that not every attribution made in that edition can be accepted unreservedly), with some degree of selection made vis à vis Bacon's official papers (political and legal) printed by Spedding, and with the addition of some writings by Bacon that have come to light more recently (see BcF 61, BcF 197, BcF 287-8, *BcF 294, BcF 296, BcF 322). Entries have also been given to various, often widely circulated, works which in the seventeenth century were doubtfully or spuriously attributed to Bacon (see especially BcF 694-759). These are unlikely to appear in new editions of Bacon's works, but are included for the record, since they still have contextual interest and throw light on, for instance, Bacon's reputation as well as on some aspects of contemporary manuscript publication.

Bacon's Manuscripts

Bacon's handwriting occurs in a considerable number of the manuscripts recorded in the entries below. They include manuscripts of his Essays (*BcF 203); the essay Of the True Greatness of the Kingdom of Britain (*BcF 232); The History of the Reign of King Henry VII (*BcF 215); his Discourse touching Intelligence and the Safety of the Queen's Person (*BcF 199); his discourses on the Church of England (*BcF 121) and on the Plantation in Ireland (*BcF 132); the De vijs mortis, et de senectute retardandâ atq́. instaurandis uiribus discovered in the 1970s (*BcF 294); certain of his legal arguments and writings (*BcF 87, *BcF 261); and various other philosophical and scientific works (*BcF 111, *BcF 214, *BcF 230, *BcF 285, BcF 287, *BcF 289, *BcF 294, *BcF 297, *BcF 303, *BcF 306). Although none of the original manuscripts of the Advancement of Learning and Novum organum is known to have survived, many of the recorded philosophical and scientific manuscripts must represent drafts for Bacon's projected Instauratio magna, his great unfinished survey of human knowledge.

Many other manuscripts recorded in the entries below, though not containing Bacon's handwriting, were probably transcribed by amanuenses in his employment or were copied at some time directly from Bacon's papers, some certainly so. Spedding noticed the recurrence of certain hands found in papers definitely associated with Bacon. This line of investigation, with the help of current technological resources, is already being pursued and developed by scholars and by editors wishing to establish authoritative texts.

Although many of Bacon's writings did eventually become widely copied, it seems likely that — with occasional exceptions such as the polemical tract of 1592 Certain Observations made upon a Libel (BcF 135-152.5) — the circulation of most of Bacon's works in his own lifetime was relatively restricted and controlled, so that perhaps few of the extant manuscript copies would be very far removed from his own manuscripts. Such caution on Bacon's part would be explained not simply by gentlemanly fastidiousness as regards the supposed ‘vulgarity’ of publishing (for Bacon published those works he wanted to see made widely available) but also by such considerations as the incompleteness of some writings and the political sensitivity or avant-garde nature of others — such as his edition of Certain Considerations touching the Better Pacification and Edification of the Church of England, the suppression of which resulted in a series of partly printed exempla completed by publishers or stationers in manuscript (BcF 121-131.8). Some copies of his works were probably made within the circles of government administration, for Bacon would have had various official scribes who had access to his papers. Some were given to select friends for their personal consideration; some were even sent abroad to scholars on the Continent. Among items in the last category the manuscript of In felicem memoriam Elizabethae which Bacon sent to Sir George Carew in Paris and which he mentions in a letter to Carew (Spedding, VI, 283) can now probably be identified among state papers in the Bibliothèque Nationale (BcF 299). Other manuscripts in this library include copies of Bacon's once ‘lost’ treatise Abecedarium naturae (BcF 286-286.5), as well as of other treatises (BcF 295-296.5). An interesting feature of BcF 295 is that it is in the hand of a French scribe very similar to that responsible for a state tract in a composite volume in the British Library containing certain of Bacon's own manuscripts: namely, ‘Ung discours sur la direction, Management et administration des finances’ in Harley MS 7017, ff. 353r-9v (compare *BcF 233, *BcF 269, *BcF 305).

Some of the extant manuscripts may, again, derive from papers that Bacon left at his death, many of which seem to have been retained (and some published) by his secretary and chaplain William Rawley. In his last will and testimony, made 9 April 1626 (*BcF 654), Bacon requested that his executors, his brother-in-law Sir John Constable and his ‘verie good freind Mr Bosvile’, should ‘take into theire handes all my papers whatsoeuer, whch are either in Cabinetts Boxes or Presses and them to seale vpp vntill they may att theire leasure pervse them’. In an earlier will of 10 April 1621 (BcF 655), Bacon requested that his ‘compositions vnpublished, or the fragments of them’ should be delivered to Constable ‘to the end, that if any of them be fit in his judgment to be published, he may accordingly dispose of them. And in particular I wish the Elogium which I wrote in felicem memoriam Reginae Elisabethae may be published.’ Lists of Bacon's works and manuscripts made after his death (British Library, Sloane MS 629, ff. 243r-5v) include, among other familiar titles, such items as ‘The discourse In felicem Memoriam Elizabethae, turned into English by my selfe, since my lords Death’, ‘Certaine phisicall Advises, out of the booke de vita et Morte and otherwise’, ‘Abecedarium Naturae’, ‘some of the Experiments reserved out of the Naturall Historie because they were not fitt to be published in English’, ‘some helps and directions for the Preservation of Health’, and ‘Touching the cure of desperate and suddain diseases’.

Bacon's Notebooks and Collections of Aphorisms

Certain other manuscripts containing Bacon's handwriting reflect his habit of keeping notebooks and commonplace books. Much is known of his activities in this respect, not least because he catalogues, and explains his use of, his ‘paper bookes’ (most now lost) in Comentarius solutus (see especially Spedding, XI, 59-62). His compilations included legal commonplace books (such as *BcF 233), designed for use in his professional work; formal ‘title bookes’ in which useful extracts from authors could be entered by scribes ‘in order, and under fitt Titles’; and personal memoranda books, like the Promus of Formularies and Elegancies (*BcF 269) and Comentarius solutus itself (*BcF 153), kept as a record of work in progress and for freely jotting down ideas, observations, and personal comments as they occurred to him. His views on commonplace books, and his qualified testimony to their usefulness (provided the selection and arrangement of material be judicious), are probably to be found, besides, in a letter to Fulke Greville (National Archives, Kew, SP.14/59, f. 452v), printed from a contemporary transcript (Bodleian, MS Tanner 79, ff. 29r-30v) in Spedding, IX, 21-6. The original letter is not in Bacon's hand and lacks a signature, but there are strong reasons for attributing it to him: see, inter alia, Vernon F. Snow, ‘Francis Bacon's Advice to Fulke Greville on Research Techniques’, Huntington Library Quarterly, 23 (1959-60), 369-78, and Brian Vickers, ‘The Authenticity of Bacon's Earliest Writings’, Studies in Philology, 94 (1997), 248-96 (pp. 275-7). For a discussion of Bacon's use of commonplace books and other notebooks, see Angus Vine, ‘Commercial Commonplacing: Francis Bacon, the Waste-book, and the Ledger’, English Manuscript Studies, 16 (2011), 197-218.

Bacon was also clearly interested in collecting into his notebooks current sayings, aphorisms, and anecdotes. In A direccon for the readeinge of histories with profitt, ascribed to Bacon in a single known manuscript (BcF 197), he recommended taking note of ‘The apt & sententious speeches & answeres comonly called Apothegmes’. His interest in such material is witnessed by the extant collections in BcF 85-86, as well as by his posthumously published Apothegms (Spedding, VII, 111-86). Seventeenth-century lists of Bacon's works and of the manuscripts he left behind (British Library, Sloane MS 629, ff. 243r-5v) include ‘Apothegmes cast out of my lords booke & not prynted’, ‘Apothegmes of K. James’, and ‘some fewe Apothegmes not chosen’. (The second item here possibly relates to British Library Harley MS 6824, ff. 1r-9r: ‘Proverbs and Aphorisms divine and morall, Collected as they were at sundrie times spoken by his most excellent Maiestie James the first, king of England’). These examples are worth citing in view of the special claims made by the ‘Baconians’ with regard to Bacon's Promus (*BcF 269). Many of the phrases and sayings collected in this manuscript echo phrases found in Shakespeare's works (see, for instance, Sir Edwin Durning-Lawrence, Bacon is Shake-speare (London, 1910)). Promus is still cited in literature of the present Bacon Society (The Shakespeare Authorship Information Centre, London) as evidence that Bacon wrote the works of Shakespeare, on the grounds that ‘Bacon would not be such a fool as to waste his time by making a note of anything that was commonly current’. Bacon (like many of his contemporaries who kept commonplace books) was indeed such a ‘fool’, and no doubt would have justified the time ‘wasted’ in recording often very trivial material of this kind by the dictum (expressed in the letter to Greville mentioned above) that ‘excellent Wits will make use of every little thing’.

Dramatic Works

Besides a limited incursion into the field of verse composition (most of the poems recorded in entries below under Verse being of dubious attribution), Bacon did get involved in ‘dramatic works’ of a decidedly non-professional, exclusive nature. He is known to have taken a hand in certain entertainments presented at Gray's Inn (including perhaps BcF 318). In his capacity as a secretary to the Earl of Essex, he certainly contributed to at least one entertainment presented before Queen Elizabeth. Portions of his autograph drafts of the Essex device for Accession Day, 1595, are preserved (*BcF 309), as well as various early transcripts of the device (BcF 308, BcF 310-317.5), which must have attracted a considerable amount of contemporary attention, though it failed to please Elizabeth herself.

The other most notable entertainment by Bacon is Of Tribute, or Giving What is Due, a piece probably presented before the Queen in 1592 (and which was belatedly included in the canon by Spedding: see BcF 319). What appears to be the only complete extant text of this entertainment is a scribal copy now in Japan (BcF 320). Both this entertainment and the 1595 Essex device are included in an important (though, unfortunately, badly damaged) manuscript of works associated with the Elizabethan Court now preserved at Alnwick Castle (reproduced in Burgoyne, Alnwick MS). This manuscript is (after Bacon's Promus) the main manuscript evidence used by the ‘Baconians’ in support of their theory. The first page contains a large amount of scribbling and the names of various authors in an anonymous hand (which has been erroneously described as that of John Davies of Hereford: see T. Le Marchant Douse, Examination of an Old Manuscript preserved in the library of the Duke of Northumberland (London, 1904)). These scribblings include several references not only to Bacon and the Bacon contents of the manuscript but also to William Shakespeare, a quotation from The Rape of Lucrece (ShW 5), and the titles ‘Rychard the second’ and ‘Rychard the third’, conceivably referring to copies of Shakespeare's plays which may once have formed part of the volume. Even if they made a more specific connection between Bacon and Shakespeare than in fact they do, these scribblings would have little significance in themselves, being the kind of random and indeterminate jottings found in innumerable manuscripts of the period.


Entries are also given here to manuscript copies of Bacon's speeches, some of which — such as that delivered on 7 May 1617 when he became Lord Chancellor — became widely circulated. The entries, however, do not necessarily identify the particular speeches in the manuscript recorded. Further examples of speeches, or brief interjections, by Bacon in Parliament can no doubt be found in contemporary parliamentary journals, as also in accounts of various major trials (such as the arraignment of Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset), which are not here recorded.

The early lists of Bacon's manuscripts (British Library, Sloane MS 629, ff. 243-5v) mention ‘A Booke of Speeches conteining 37 sheetes of paper’. Bacon's ‘Regester Booke’ of his speeches mentioned in his will has been noted above. Bacon's speeches found in the British Library and National Archives, Kew, some partly in his own hand, are edited or cited in Spedding. Many transcripts of Bacon's speeches are found elsewhere, however, either in single copies or gathered in groups.


Bacon engaged in a huge correspondence throughout his career and many original letters, both autograph and in the hands of amanuenses and signed by him, survive. Some hundreds of these letters, dating from 1574 onwards, as well as many early copies of them, are listed in the online Francis Bacon Correspondence Project. Besides the original letters in the National Archives, Kew, and British Library, many of which were edited in Spedding, letters by Bacon are found in numerous other repositories, including Lambeth Palace (also a number of copies); the library of the Marquess of Salisbury, Hatfield House; the Parliamentary Archives; the Folger; the Huntington; Princeton University; the Bibliotheca Bodmeriana, Cologny-Geneva; the library of the Marquess of Bath, Longleat House; the Somerset Heritage Centre; the Pierpont Morgan Library; the library of Robert S. Pirie, New York; the Clark Library, Los Angeles; and the Staatsbibliothek, Berlin, among others. Letters by Bacon also occasionally turn up in auctions — such as three sold at Sotheby's, 9 November 1965, lot 350, 24 June 1975, lot 210, and 5 July 1977, lot 98.

Among the numerous facsimile examples of Bacon's letters (some wholly, some partly autograph) that have been published are those in Isographie des Hommes Célèbres, tome 1 (Paris, 1828-30); Sir Henry James, Facsimiles of National Manuscripts from William the Conqueror to Queen Anne, 4 vols (Southampton, 1865-8), IV, Plate XXIII; Catalogue of the Collection of Autograph Letters and Historical Documents formed between 1865 and 1882 by Alfred Morrison, VI (1892), facing p. 2; Facsimiles of Royal, Historical, and Literary Autographs in the British Museum (1899), No. 24; Greg, English Literary Autographs, Plates LXXVI-LXXVII; Petti, English Literary Hands, No. 45; A facsimile page in The National Library of Scotland Advocates' Library Notable Accessions up to 1925 (Edinburgh, 1965), Plate 55; Ann Morton, Men of Letters, Public Record Office Museum Pamphlets No. 6 (London, 1974), Plate II; Autograph Letters & Manuscripts: Major Acquisitions of the Pierpont Morgan Library 1929-1974 (New York, 1974), No. 9; British Literary Manuscripts, Series I (New York, 1981), Plate 23; and Margaret Crum, English and American Autographs in the Bodmeriana (Cologny-Geneva, 1977), p. 19; as well as various sale catalogues, including Maggs's, No. 544 (Summer 1930), item 679 (frontispiece), and subsequent catalogues to 1934; and Sotheby's, 9 November 1965, lot 350, and 14 December 1992, Elizabeth and Essex catalogue, lot 7.

For present purposes, only manuscript copies of Bacon's letters — including substantial ‘letterbooks’ or series of letters which often get copied en bloc — are here recorded. Again, it has been impractical to identify each individual letter.

The authorship of certain of the letters preserved in transcripts is not certain, although they may have been associated with Bacon. Of uncertain or complicated authorship, for instance, is a seriest of at least three Letters of Advice to the Earl of Rutland on his Travels (Spedding, IX, 2-20). These are normally ascribed to the Earl of Essex but (as with the letter to Greville noted above) Bacon may well have taken a hand in drafting certain of them as Essex's secretary (for which reason they are included in the forthcoming Oxford Bacon edition.). For currently known manuscript texts of these letters, see Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, EsR 153-185.

The most widely circulated of all Bacon's letters, and indeed of all Bacon's writings, are the series of ‘Humble Submissions’ and ‘Supplications’ he sent to the House of Lords on 19 March 1620/1, 22 April and 30 April 1621, at the time of his indictment for corruption. These pleas are printed in Spedding (XIV, 215-16, 242-5, 252-62) from the Journal of the House of Lords. Among the many extant transcripts of the Supplications (BcF 429-532), some are clearly contemporary copies made by parliamentary scribes, although (contrary to statements made in catalogues in the Folger, University of London, and Pierpont Morgan Libraries) none is known to contain Bacon's own hand.

Certain of these various transcripts of letters may conceivably derive from one of the ‘two Regester Bookes’ which Bacon ‘made vpp’ and mentioned in his will: ‘the one of my Orations or speeches the other of my Epistles or Letters whereof there may bee vse, And yet because they touch vpon buisines of state they are not fitt to bee putt into the handes but of some Counsellor I doe deuise and bequeath them to the right hoble my verie good Lord the Lord Bishopp of Lincolne’. It may be noted that a ‘Booke of Lettres conteining 46 sheetes’ is mentioned in the early lists of Bacon's manuscripts (British Library, Sloane MS 629, ff. 243r-5v)

Miscellaneous Documents

Many other documents of a miscellaneous nature survive in Bacon's hand, or bear his signature, and are now widely dispersed among numerous libraries and collections world-wide. The documentation relating chiefly to Bacon's official duties — and not given entries below — includies many reports on judicial and financial matters, his legal ‘charges’,warrants, memoranda, minutes, circulars, instructions, articles of examination, decrees, breviates, certificates, draft proclamations, propositions, and reports, concerning the business of the Crown, Privy Council, Parliament, and High Court, as well as deeds and indentures relating to his personal property and transactions. Some of these, particularly those in the British Library and National Archives, Kew, are edited or recorded in Spedding. Some of them, as well as additional items, will be edited in the forthcoming Oxford Bacon.

Some notable miscellaneous collections relating to Bacon may briefly be mentioned. Among the extensive resources of the British Library are the papers of Thomas Birch (1705-66) (Add. MSS 4258-63), which also incorporate some papers of Bacon's chaplain and editor Dr William Rawley (1588?-1667). The collection of Bacon's editor Basil Montagu (1770-1851) is now in Cambridge University Library (MSS Add. 4326-4338): see Duncan Wu, ‘Basil Montagu's Manuscripts’, Bodleian Library Record, 14 (1992), 246-51, and David McKitterick, ‘The Francis Bacon Papers of Basil Montagu’, Bodleian Library Record, 14 (1993), 342-6. One manuscript of biographical interest presented by Montagu to Lady Verulam is now in the Hertfordshire Record Office (D/EV F306). The University of London Library, Senate House, incorporates the library of the ‘Baconian’ Sir Edwin Durning-Lawrence (1837-1914). Interesting manuscripts are found in various other libraries including the Huntington, which now incorporates the Francis Bacon Library, of Claremont, California.

One collection which should be viewed with reservation is the so-called ‘Bacon-Tottel Collection’ at University College London (MSS Ogden 7). This collection of fifty-four miscellanies and notebooks was owned and chiefly compiled by William Drake (1606-69) of Shardeloes, near Amersham, Buckinghamshire, formerly seat of the Tottel family. The volumes are of considerable interest in their own right, and Bacon's works are often quoted in them, but the claim made by Alan Keen at the time of their discovery in 1943 that they were compiled for Bacon himself, by his ‘law-clerk’, William Tottel, may be discounted. The collection is discussed at length in Stuart Clark, ‘Wisdom Literature of the Seventeenth Century: A Guide to the Contents of the “Bacon-Tottel” Commonplace Books’, Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, 6, Part 5 (1976), 291-305; 7, Part 1 (1977), 46-73. It is also the subject of an extensive study by Kevin Sharpe, in his Reading Revolutions: The Politics of Reading in Early Modern England (New Haven and London, 2000).

Books and Manuscripts from Bacon's Library

In his last will and testament Bacon requested that there might be ‘bookes faire bound’ of his own works ‘placed in the Kinges Library, And in the Library of the Vniversitie of Cambridge, And in the Librarie of Trinitie Colledge…And in the Librarie of Bennett Colledge [i.e. Pembroke College]…And in the Library of the Vniversitie of Oxenford, And in the Library of my Lord of Cantorbury [i.e. Lambeth Palace], And in the Library of Eaton’, that his ‘Bookes of Orisons or Psalmes curiously Rymed’ should be given to ‘the Right hoble my worthie freind the Marquis ffiat & late Lord Ambassadour of france’, and that ‘all my Bookes’ should go to Sir John Constable.

Printed volumes which can today be identified as deriving from Bacon's library are rare. Bacon does not seem to have been in the habit of signing his books, so they would not be easily recognisable, although volumes with the binding stamped in gold with the Bacon crest of a boar are occasionally found, as well as a few bearing subsequent owners' inscriptions of provenance (see BcF 658-676), and it is likely that others will come to light in due course. Perhaps the most famous of these volumes is the exemplum of Bacon's own Instauratio magna (1620) presented to Bacon's great rival, Sir Edward Coke, which bears Coke's caustic remark on the title page, ‘It deserveth not to be read in schooles | but to be fraughted in the ship of fooles’ (BcF 659).

A late-medieval codex given by Bacon to Sir Robert Cotton (BcF 674) is also of particular interest in witnessing the relationship between these two scholars. Like so many intellectual figures of the time, Bacon certainly made use of Cotton's library. In Comentarius solutus Bacon reminded himself. ‘For prsidts and antiquities to acquaint my self and take collections from Sr Rob. Cotton’ (Spedding, XI, 49), and in The History and Reign of King Henry VII he referred to Cotton as ‘a worthy preserver and treasurer of rare antiquities: from whose manuscripts I have had much light for the furnishing of this work’ (Spedding, VI, 167). For the Cotton manuscript of Camden's Annales which Bacon annotated at Camden's request, see *CmW 1.

Various other books have been associated with Bacon by librarians or private owners, but with little or no clear evidence of provenance. Some indeed have genuine seventeenth-century inscriptions by one or more ‘Francis Bacon’, but they do not correspond with the recognizable signature of Francis Bacon, Viscount St Albans. Examples of such volumes — which have not been given entries below — include the following:

Castiglione, Baldassare. The Book of the Courtier, trans. Thomas Hoby (London, 1561)): University College London, Ogden B 5.

Concordantiæ Bibliorum ([Frankfurt], 1600): University of London, [D-L.L.] G9 [Bible] fol. Strong Room.

Diogenes Laertius. Vitae philosophorum (Leiden, 1596), inscribed in an unidentified hand ‘Francis Bacons booke’: formerly in the Francis Bacon Library, Claremont, California; now Huntington, RB 601153.

Dyer, Sir James. Un abridgement de touts les cases reportes per Mounsier J.D. (London, 1609): Folger, STC 7387.

Pliny, Epistolarum (Lyons, 1547)): Folger, PA 6638 A2 1547 Cage.

Tunstall, Cuthbert. De arte supputandi libri quattuor (London, 1522): Sotheby's, 25 October 2005 (Library of the Earls of Macclesfield removed from Shirburn Castle, Part Six), lot 2022, with a facsimile of the title-page (signed ‘ffrancis Bacons booke’) in the sale catalogue

Vergil, Polydore. De inventiboribus rerum prior editio (Paris, ‘1528’: i.e. 1529): University of London Library, Special Collections [D.-L.L.] C4.5 [Vergilius]

To this list of spurious items can be added volumes supposedly associated with Bacon on the evidence of markings and annotations. The ‘principall use’ of one of Bacon's notebooks, he records in Comentarius solutus, ‘is to receyve such parts and passages of Authors as I shall note and underline in the bookes themselves to be wrytten foorth by a servant and so collected into this book’ (Spedding, XI, 60). William T. Smedley (The Mystery of Francis Bacon (London, 1912)) refers (p. 157) to a collection made by Mr W.M. Safford of ‘nearly two thousand volumes’ marked in this way by Bacon. All these volumes were later acquired by the Folger: see Immerito, ‘The Folger Library Shakespeare Collection’, The Librarian and Book World, 21 (1932), 262-3. In so far as it relates to Bacon, Safford's collection was based on nothing more than fanciful conjecture. Many people besides Bacon were in the habit of marking their books, and also of using the marginal trefoil which is found in certain of Bacon's manuscripts (e.g. *BcF 153, BcF 287). Without clear evidence of provenance or positive palaeographical identification it would be impossible to distinguish Bacon's books from those of his contemporaries.

For this reason Bacon's supposed ownership of the following volumes, which cannot be verified, may also probably be dismissed:

Bèze, Théodore de. [Commentary on the Book of Job] (1589): Cashel Cathedral. Recorded in The Book Collector, 17 (1968), p. 325, as bearing Bacon's signature in faded brown ink.

The Bible (London, 1549): University of London Library, Bacon Society B.S. 1222 deposited in U.L.L. The annotations are not in Bacon's hand.

Littleton, Sir Thomas. Les tenures (London, 1591), once owned by W. Longeville, with copious annotations in legal French: University of London Library,[D.-L.L.] H6.4 [Littleton] Strongroom.

Vergil, Polydore. Anglicae historiae (Basle, 1534): Untraced, sold at auction in London in 1932. Containing a large number of sketches which were reproduced in J.E. Hodgkin, Fifty pen-and-ink sketches in exact facsimile, by J.E.H. from a copy of Polydore Vergil's History of England in his possession (privately printed, London, 1860). The volume was also discussed in Immerito, ‘A Remarkable Elizabethan Discovery’, The Librarian and Book World, 21 (1932), 288-9. The association with Bacon seems to have been based on nothing more than the occurrence of trefoils drawn in the margins.

Year Books: a group of early year books bound in three volumes, with Bacon's initials on the title of Vol. I and notes allegedly in his hand. Once owned by Benjamin Heywood Bright (1787-1843), book collector. Sotheby's, 3 March 1845 (Bright sale), lot 6178, to Payne.

Exempla of Printed Works by Bacon Annotated by Early Readers

A final group of items of some possible interest — and which have not been given separate entries below — is printed volumes of Bacon's works that were owned and sometimes annotated by early readers. Examples include:

Charles I's annotated exemplum of The Advancement of Learning (London, 1640): British Library, C. 6.I.1.

An exemplum of The Advancement of Learning (London, 1605) with annotations in Latin by Isaac Casaubon (1559-1614), scholar, later owned by Horace Walpole (1717-97), is in the Huntington, RB 56251. Facsimile of the signed title-page in Kiernan's edition, frontispiece.

John Evelyn's exemplum of The Advancement of Learning (London, 1640) and other works of Bacon: Christie's, 22 June 1977, lots 76, 78-82.

An exemplum of The Advancement of Learning (London, 1605) with annotations possibly made by Thomas Hobbes: Library of the Duke of Devonshire, Chatsworth House, 135. B.

An exemplum of the 1633 edition of The Advancement of Learning copiously annotated by Charles, second Baron Stanhope of Harrington (1593-1675), and once owned by Horace Walpole (Folger, STC 1166 Copy 6). Recorded in G.P.V. Akrigg, ‘The Curious Marginalia of Charles, Second Lord Stanhope’, in Joseph Quincy Adams Memorial Studies, ed. James G. McManaway, Giles E. Dawson, and Edwin E. Willoughby (Washington, DC, 1948), pp. 785-801.

Alexander Pope's annotated exemplum of a later octavo edition of Bacon's Essays (lacking a title-page), in elaborately tooled crimson morocco: British Library, Stowe MS 964.


A manuscript copy, on sixteen quarto leaves, allegedly transcribed between 1867 and 1883 from the original manuscript of Bacon's Essays by the scholar and forger John Payne Collier (1789-1883) is in the University of London Library (MS 291).

Peter Beal