Dr Simon Forman
Charismatic, volatile and ambitious, Simon Forman rose from a poor country upbringing in Wiltshire, via a slave-apprenticeship in Salisbury and a spell as a servant in Oxford to become one of the wealthiest doctors in London. He was doctor to the giants of the theatre and his 'playbook' contains the first eye-witness accounts of Shakespeare's plays. Like most doctors he also cast horoscopes for all and sundry: from soldiers, courtiers and sailors to women on the look-out for marriage. On the fringes of intrigues at Court, he was linked to Sir Walter Raleigh's 'School of the Night' and to the famous Overbury poisoning case, starring the beautiful Countess of Essex. This lively account of his life sees him denounced as a quack, a crank, and an astrologer who used black magic - yet his meticulous case-notes are now a key source for Elizabethan medicine. Judith Cook also reveals his private life, deciphering, for the first time, his intimate coded diary detailing all his law cases and battles with the establishment and particularly his hectic sex life, a record of promiscuity as vivid as Pepys or Bowell. (One of his affairs was with Elizabeth Lanier, perhaps the 'Dark lady' of Shakespeare's sonnets.)A gripping life of a strange and forceful man and an unforgettable picture of all sides of London life.