Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2017

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 07/13/2019

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Adam G. Hooks


Helkiah Crooke (1576-1648) was a London physician who wrote the first comprehensive anatomy manual in the English vernacular, Mikrokosmographia (1615). This dissertation demonstrates the significance of Crooke’s example for several lines of inquiry. His story shows the essential role of humanistic study in the development of an effective early modern physician. It also demonstrates how reading an anatomy manual as a literary work illuminates the paradigms underpinning the relationships between books and bodies in the early modern era. Furthermore, examining the performative aspects of the physician’s profession alongside dramatic literary characters elucidates the relationship between the professional sphere and the public stage and, consequently, the ramifications of that relationship for Crooke’s historical characterization. Ultimately, the project shows how and why Crooke and Mikrokosmographia are perfectly positioned to lend insight on a large number of medical practices and experiences in the early modern period.

While scholars frequently cite the book as a reference on early modern thinking about bodies, almost all of this use has consisted of material excerpted without systematic analysis of the way the text is put together or close examination of the cultural conditions of the book’s production. Furthermore, several of the extant accounts of Crooke’s life contradict one another, neglect crucial evidence, or make unsupported claims, leaving confusing questions regarding the education and career of the man who authored this important text. This dissertation rectifies several misconceptions regarding Crooke and his book, providing new interpretation of the creation of Mikrokosmographia and Crooke’s memory in the history of medicine. The project explores the anatomy manual’s cultural currency and the relationship of the book and its author to contemporary writing more readily recognized today as literary works. It also questions existing categorizations of early medical texts as it works to demonstrate the role of such writing in shaping authors’ identities and careers as well as affecting the lives and health of the public, recovering the fullest picture of Crooke’s life story and the most extensive bibliography of his writing to date.


anatomy, barber-surgeons, Helkiah Crooke, Mikrokosmographia, physicians, William Jaggard


ix, 189 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 183-189).


Copyright © 2017 Jillian Faith Linster

Available for download on Saturday, July 13, 2019