I am a historian of medieval and early modern science and medicine, specialising in alchemy. In my teaching and research, I explore alchemy’s relationship with natural philosophy, medicine and culture in pre-modern Europe (particularly England), focusing especially on interconnections between textual authority, artisanal practice, and alchemical imagery. My interests also extend to early modern intellectual history and the history and philosophy of chemistry more generally.
I hold degrees in Law (LL.B. Hons., Hull, 1996), Renaissance Studies (MA, London, 2006) and History and Philosophy of Science (Ph.D., Cambridge, 2010). Prior to joining the Princeton faculty in 2014, I spent four years as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Cambridge. I have also held visiting fellowships at the Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia (2009); Scaliger Institute, University of Leiden (2010); University of Athens (2011); and Beinecke Library, Yale University (2013). Since 2013, I have been Editor of Ambix, the main journal for the history of alchemy and chemistry.
I am completing two book projects at present. The first, contracted with the University of Chicago Press, traces the relationship between alchemical ideas and practices in medieval and early modern England, drawing on my Wellcome Trust-funded project, “Medicine and the Making of English Alchemy, 1300–1700.” My second book, The Hidden Stone, investigates the visual culture of alchemy, focusing on a spectacular group of manuscripts known as the “Ripley Scrolls.” I am also starting work on a new project that aims to recover the practices of early chemistry by recreating historical experiments.
“Depicting the Medieval Alchemical Cosmos: George Ripley’s Wheel of Inferior Astronomy.” Early Science and Medicine, 18 (2013): 45–86. Reprinted in Observing the World Through Images: Diagrams and Figures in the Early-Modern Arts and Sciences, ed. N. Jardine & I. Fay (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 45–86.
“John Dee and the Alchemists: Practising and Promoting English Alchemy in the Holy Roman Empire.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 43 (2012): 498–508.
“The Catalogue of the Ripley Corpus: Alchemical Writings Attributed to George Ripley (d. ca. 1490).” Ambix, 57 (2010): 125–201. Awarded the 2013 Neu-Whitrow Bibliography Prize.
“Establishing the Canon: George Ripley and his Alchemical Sources.” Ambix, 55 (2008): 189–208. Awarded the 2008 Partington Prize.
General Editor (with Lawrence M. Principe), Sources of Alchemy and Chemistry: Sir Robert Mond Studies in the History of Early Chemistry
Guest editor, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 43 (2012): special issue, “John Dee and the Sciences: Early Modern Networks of Knowledge”
Guest editor (with D. Bobory), Early Science and Medicine 17 (2012): special issue, “Alchemy at the Fringes: Communication and Practice at the Peripheries of Early Modern Europe”