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Gerard's Herbal by John Gerard

Gerard's Herbal (edition 2011)

by John Gerard

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156576,544 (4.07)1
Title:Gerard's Herbal
Authors:John Gerard
Info:Velluminous Press (2011), Edition: 1, Kindle Edition
Collections:Your library, Wellness library
Tags:herbs, herbal, folklore

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The Herbal or General History of Plants by John Gerard



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The 1633 edition revised and enlarged by Thomas Johnson. Containing almost 2,850 plant descriptions and 2,705 superb illustrations, Gerard’s Herbal is a monumental work, the book all modern English herbals are derived from, and the one herbal every serious enthusiast should have in its entirety. ( )
  north_berendey | Sep 18, 2012 |
1964 edition of Marcus Woodward's 1927 distillation of Gerard's famous 1545 Herball.

Woodward begins with a eulogy and biography of John Gerard, born in Nantwich. Gerard was a ship's surgeon on board merchant vessels, and he traveled the coasts of Europe before settling in London in 1577. He superintended the gardens of Lord Burleigh in the Strand and at Theobalds in Hertfordshire. Gerard had a house in Holborn, where he practiced "barbarie and chirugerie", and his garden became famous. He exchanged plants with the keeper of the King's garden in Paris, Jean Robin. Men of every rank sent plants to him from all over the globe. Sir Walter Raleigh was a contemporary botanical collector. Gerard died in 1611 in Holborn, and it is noted that while little is known of his life, his wife had long assisted him professionally. [xiii] He died intestate, without wealth, and with the admiration of his peers.

Woodward notes that another herbalist, Miss Rhode, suggested that Shakespeare "may have seen Gerard's garden" and living nearby in the house of a Huguenot refugee almost opposite, they "could scarcely have failed to know one another".[xiv] Shakespeare's plays are full of the same herb-lore.

The Herball is written in Elizabethan prose and steeped in folklore. In 1597 the first edition of Gerard's "Historie of Plants" was published. It was a huge heavy folio of some 1630 pages, including 1800 wood block illustrations from Tabernaemontanus' "Eicones" and a few supplied by Gerard, such as the first published cut of the "Virginian" potato. [xv] For Thos. Johnson's 1636 edition, this opus was "distilled" to 236 pages. with many of the laborious arguments about plant names and forgotten plants removed. Johnson's Notes are included in this reprint.

Gerard dedicated his work, and his gardens, to his employer, the Treasurer of England. He argues that plants are important -- for food, clothing, medicine, provisions, the outward senses, and "in the mind" to take delight and be "enriched with the knowledge" [1-2]. In the customary mode of flattering the Lord, he points out that his fellow kings have long recognized the wisdom of studying plants -- citing Plutarch's note on Mithridates, Pliny's note on Euax, the "King of Arabia". He remarks the martyrdom of Dioclesian, then invokes Solomon who "was able to set out the nature of all plants from the highest Cedar to the lowest Mosse". Here is yet another reference which shows that the "Western world" was far from ignoring Middle East cultures, but was eager to emulate it.

Gerard concludes his Dedication, saying "But, my very good Lord" the study of plants "is now neglected". In the Lord's employment for 20 years, he has collected and grown plants from all over the world. "But because gardens are privat, and many times finding an ignorant or a negligent successor, come soone to ruine"...Gerard first wrote and then published this work "to make my labors common", and to free the work from that danger. The two "buts" are so significant in the prolixity of words. Gerard knew that private gardens were at risk. He was seeking to publish a "Historie" of plants that would make his garden subjects free of the danger of neglect, and he was submitting the gardens and the book "to the support of this State" under "our dread Sovereign".

Gerard also wrote a dedication "to the courteous and well willing Readers". More detailed, not as urgent, clearly intended for sale. ( )
  keylawk | Mar 18, 2012 |
For entertainment value ONLY. Later editors have show that Gerard didn't know his butt from a hole in the ground.

That said, it IS entertaining, and the illustrations are pleasing. ( )
  wazookeeper | Oct 28, 2009 |
Back cover: John Gerard (1545-1612), the renowned Elizabethan herbalist, combined his delight in flowers and plants with a very practical knowedlge and philosophy. In 1597 he published his Historie of Plants, the most famous of all herbals. It was a stunning compendium of the properties and folklore of plants.

His wisdom ranges widely over such diversities as violets and thyme, mallows and thrift, tobacco, potatoes, rhubarb, or the then newly fashionable strawberries. What such things are like, where they grow and when, their various names, and not least their 'vertues' as food or for health, are all described in Gerard's learned words.

Marcus Woodward has here distilled and added notes to the best of the 1636 folio, including Gerard's fascinating description of almost two hundred plants. The result is an essential pleasure for all who cherish flowers and fruits, gardens and orchards, and the traditional ways of rural life.
  gentcat | May 15, 2009 |
John Gerarde of London Master in Chirurgerie. Very much Enlarged and Amended by Thomas Johnson, Citizen and Apothecarye of London
  hyperrog | Mar 29, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Gerardprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gerard, Johnmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Woodward, MarcusEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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