John Evelyn Living for Ingenuity, Gillian Darley
This new biography of John Evelyn, diarist, scholar, and intellectual
virtuoso (1620-1706), is the first account to make full use of his
huge unpublished archive, deposited at the British Library in 1995.
This crucial material permits a broader and richer picture of Evelyn,
his life, and his friendships than permitted by his own celebrated
Gillian Darley provides a rounded portrait of Evelyn's eighty-five
years--his family life, his exile in Paris, his interests, and his
preoccupations. Evelyn lived through some of England's most tumultuous
history, through five reigns, the Civil War, the Restoration, and the
Revolution of 1688. He was author or translator of countless
publications, tackling an enormous variety of contemporary issues.
Both a religious man and a key figure in the Royal Society, he viewed
Christianity and the new science as wholly compatible. Evelyn remained
endlessly curious and engaged into very old age, and this absorbing
biography demonstrates the liveliness of his hugely busy mind.
Gillian Darley is the author of John Soane: An Accidental Romantic,
published by Yale University Press. She was architectural
correspondent of the Observer, 1990-94.