Robert Burton

Robert Burton, 1577–1640, English clergyman and scholar, b. Leicestershire, educated at Oxford. He served as librarian at Christ Church, Oxford, all his life; in addition he was vicar of St. Thomas, Oxford, and later was rector of Seagrave, Leicestershire. A bachelor, he led an uneventful, scholarly life. His famous work, The Anatomy of Melancholy, appeared in 1621 under the pen name Democritus Junior. Enlarged and revised several times before his death, this treatise originally set out to explore the causes and effects of melancholy, but it eventually covered many areas in the life of man, including science, history, and political and social reform. The work is divided into three main portions: The first defines and describes various kinds of melancholy; the second puts forward various cures; and the third analyzes love melancholy and religious melancholy. Burton's prose style is informal, anecdotal, and thoroughly idiosyncratic, and he includes quotations from a wide range of literature—the Bible, the classics, the Elizabethan authors.

See M. O'Connell, Robert Burton (1986).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Anatomy of Robert Burton's England
William R. Mueller.
University of California Press, 1952
The Psychiatry of Robert Burton
Bergen Evans; George J. Mohr.
Columbia University Press, 1944
The Anatomy of Melancholy
Robert E. Burton.
Clarendon Press, vol.4, 1998
The Nature of Melancholy: From Aristotle to Kristeva
Jennifer Radden.
Oxford University Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "Melancholic States: Burton"
Never to Go Forth of the Limits': Space and Melancholy in Robert Burton's Library Project
Barczyk-Barakonska, Liliana.
Journal of European Studies, Vol. 33, No. 3-4, December 2003
Is There a Melancholic Gaze? from Visual Distemper to Visionary Fancy
Crignon-De Oliveira, Claire.
Journal of European Studies, Vol. 33, No. 3-4, December 2003
Literature and Utopian Politics in Seventeenth-Century England
Robert Appelbaum.
Cambridge University Press, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Robert Burton begins on p. 81
Religious Melancholy and Protestant Experience in America
Julius H. Rubin.
Oxford University Press, 1994
Librarian’s tip: "Robert Burton (1577-1640)" begins on p. 38
The Age of Milton: An Encyclopedia of Major 17th-Century British and American Authors
Alan Hager.
Greenwood Press, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Robert Burton begins on p. 53
Encyclopedia of the Essay
Tracy Chevalier.
Fitzroy Dearborn, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Robert Burton begins on p. 24
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