Discovering Astrology, the Wisdom of Solomon in Miniature: a look at Senate House Library's latest addition
Senate House Library has recently added a notable addition to its Harry Price Library of Magical Literature in the form of an 18th-century work on popular astrology.
Astrology, the Wisdom of Solomon in Miniature (1792), is an introductory guide to natal astrology that ‘a person of the meanest capacity may become proficient’ in the art of determining future events.
The titlepage also boasts of a curious collection of unpublished nativities that purportedly reveal the underlying causes of an individual's health, social status, and other traits. Additionally, this edition features a rare, engraved frontispiece that depicts the influence of the planets on human nature and fortune, as described in the first part of the book.
The pseudonymous author, 'C. Heydon, astrophilo,' pays homage to Sir Christopher Heydon (1561-1623), a soldier, parliamentarian, and an avid champion of astrology. During his lifetime, Heydon published two works: A Defence of Judiciall Astrologie (1603) and An Astrological Discourse with Mathematical Demonstrations (1650), the latter being published posthumously. Copies of both these works can be found in the Harry Price Library at Senate House Library. While the content of Astrology, the Wisdom of Solomon in Miniature may have drawn inspiration from Heydon's writing, it is important to note that the book must have been produced long after his death.
The book was acquired by the Library from Alastair Reid, who inherited it from his paternal grandfather James Edward Reid (1894-1966) and the copy also includes a pencil inscription from Esther Pratt (1841-1926), his paternal great grandmother. Alastair was keen for the book to go to a Library where it would be accessible to anyone interested in reading it.
Senate House Library is home to the Harry Price Library of Magical Literature, which includes over 13,000 books, pamphlets, cuttings, offprints and periodicals dating from the 15th century onwards on magic, witchcraft, psychical research, parapsychology, prognostication, the occult, spiritualism, hauntings, the paranormal and many associated subjects. The core of the Library is the collection of author, book collector, psychical researcher and 'ghost hunter' Harry Price. He deposited his library in Senate House Library in 1936 and bequeathed it to the University of London in 1948, with an endowment to increase the collection.