Anthony Grafton

Anthony Grafton teaches European history at Princeton. He has written biographies of Joseph Scaliger, Leon Battista Alberti and Girolamo Cardano, as well as The Footnote: A Curious History, What Was History? and Inky Fingers: The Making of Books in Early Modern Europe.

A Degenerate Assemblage: Bibliomania

Anthony Grafton, 13 April 2023

New York couldn’t compete with London or Paris: it had no bouquinistes, no Farringdon Road, no British Library or Bibliothèque nationale de France. It lacked the quaint bookshops of Boston, where the staff seemed to know not only the books they sold but their 18th and 19th-century authors, not to mention Harvard’s Widener Library. But it was still a city of books, collectors and readers.

Liquor on Sundays: The Week that Was

Anthony Grafton, 17 November 2022

In​ 1930, Edmund Wilson went on the road for the New Republic. He covered striking textile workers in Massachusetts, militant miners in West Virginia and suicides in industrial cities. His pieces concerned social conflict and ruined lives, but Wilson had a deep interest in the new industrial world that was still taking shape. His informants made clear to him that time itself took a new form...

Fake it till you make it: Indexing

Anthony Grafton, 23 September 2021

Indexes aretrouble. If you index your own work, you have to chew your cabbage twice, and then again, and again. You must reread the text that seemed so cogent when you sent it to the publisher – not to mention when you revised it, following the advice of your editor and referees, and when you answered the copy editor’s queries, and when you read the proofs. As you collect...

Piranesi’s ‘Plan of Rome’ (1756)

Thelife of a Renaissance antiquarian was far from simple. In April 1436, when Cyriac of Ancona arrived in Athens, he was thrilled by his first sight of the Parthenon, the ‘marvellous marble temple of the goddess Pallas, the divine work of Phidias’. He counted its columns, admired its friezes and commented on the artistry...

What if it breaks? Renovating Rome

Anthony Grafton, 5 December 2019

Inthe last decades of the 16th century, Rome attracted visitors much as Moscow would in the 1920s and 1930s. Like Moscow, it was the centre of an international movement that sought to transform the world. Like Moscow, it provided spectacles for tourists and enclaves for foreign recruits, who were often warmly admired but never wholly trusted. And like Moscow, Rome was a Rorschach blot in...

Despite their obvious significance in the production of books, correctors were treated like manual labourers. One complained that he and his colleagues ‘would be off like a shot from this sweatshop’...

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When the King’s printer Robert Barker produced a new edition of the King James Bible in 1631, he overlooked three letters from the seventh commandment, producing the startling injunction:...

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Things Keep Happening: Histories of Histories

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 20 November 2008

A story, as John Burrow says of his own History of Histories, is selective. It looks forward ‘to its later episodes or its eventual outcome for its criteria of relevance’. Hence a...

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Giovanni Pisano and Giotto are widely recognised as the founders of Renaissance sculpture and painting, and Brunelleschi of Renaissance architecture, but it was Leon Battista Alberti (1404-72)...

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It is a shame for a 16th-century historian to know nothing about astrology, but that has been my case, and I should think that of most others in this branch of the profession. I come across, say,...

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When Browning’s grammarian, grown old and bald and sick, was urged to get out of his cell and see a bit of life before he died, he replied that he still had work to do: ‘Grant I have...

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In one era and out the other

John North, 7 April 1994

The first great Scaliger problem is that of distinguishing between father and son. When Swift, in his Treatise on Good Manners and Good Breeding, insisted that fiddlers, dancing-masters, heralds...

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Well done, you forgers

John Sutherland, 7 January 1993

It is difficult to talk sensibly about literary forgery when one has to call it that. The term carries heavy legal baggage. Criminal forgery – in the form of counterfeit money or altered...

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Peter Burke, 15 October 1987

‘Patrons are patrons,’ a citizen of Florence wrote to the Grand Duke, Ferdinando de’Medici, in 1602: ‘the patron is accountable to no one.’ But what exactly was a...

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Homage to Scaliger

Hugh Lloyd-Jones, 17 May 1984

Joseph Scaliger (1540-1609) was a towering figure in the history of European scholarship. During the first half of his career, he virtually created the systematic study of early Latin; during the...

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