Thomas Fuller(1608- 1661); Biography and famous works

Thomas Fuller(1608- 1661) was an English clergyman and historian. He was born at Aldwinkle St Peter’s in Northamptonshire and educated at Queens’ and Sidney Sussex colleges, Cambridge. He became rector of Broadwindsor, Dorset, in 1634, and shortly before the Civil War was made a preacher at the Savoy. on 11 June 1635, he achieved the degree of Bachelor of Divinity from Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. A moderate Royalist, he followed the war as chaplain to Sir Ralph Hopton (bap. 1596, d. 1652) and during his travels conceived the idea of a more exact collection’ of the worthies of England. After the Restoration, he became ‘chaplain in extraordinary’ to the king.

He published Thomas Fuller(1608- 1661) (i.e. of the Crusades) in 1639; The Holy State and the Profane State in 1642, Good Thoughts in Bad Times in 1645 (followed by two sequels); A Pisgah-Sight of Palestine, a topographical and historical work, in 1650. His work The Church-History of Britain; with the History of the University of Cambridge (1655), covers from the birth of Christ to the execution of Charles I. The History of the Worthies of England, his best-known and most characteristic work, appeared after his death in 1662 and was the fruit of much research; in his own words, ‘My pains have been scattered all over the land, by riding, writing, going, sending, chiding, begging, praying, and sometimes paying too, to procure manuscript material.’

Charles Lamb referred to him as ‘the dear, fine, silly, old angel’, and he was much admired by S. T. Coleridge. His writings are marked by a lively and eccentric curiosity, by ‘fantastic caprices’ (Leslie Stephen), and by a fondness for aphorisms.

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