Scholar, courtier, magician: the lost library of John Dee

When and where

18 January 2016 to 28 July 2016
Royal College of Physicians of London
11 St Andrews Place, Regents Park, London NW1 4LE

Past event

Scholar, courtier, magician: the lost library of John Dee

18 January - 28 July 2016, Monday-Friday only, 9am-5pm. FREE ENTRY

An exhibition exploring the life and legacy of John Dee, one of Tudor England's most extraordinary and enigmatic figure. 

A revelatory show. As the visitor peers, he finds himself drawn ever more deeply not just into the historical world of the Tudors but into the labyrinthine mind of one of its most riveting denizens.

The Times, Let Tudor magician John Dee put you under his spell

Mathematician, magician, astronomer, astrologer, imperialist, alchemist and spy, John Dee (1527–1609) continues to fascinate and inspire centuries after he entered the court of Elizabeth I.

Our exhibition explores Dee through his personal library. On display for the first time are Dee's mathematical, astronomical and alchemical texts, many elaborately annotated and illustrated by Dee's own hand. Now held in the collections of the Royal College of Physicians, they reveal tantalising glimpses into the 'conjuror's mind'.

More information: Dee’s lost library at the Royal College of Physicians

With their beautiful typography and delicate, enigmatic scribbles in the margin, John Dee's books show the movements of this searching Renaissance mind as it makes sense of its world, line by line.

The Telegraph, John Dee: the man who spoke to angels

Exhibition films

Dee's books are displayed alongside loans from the Science Museum, the British Museum and the Wellcome Collection and include Dee's mirror and crystal ball, and a specially commissioned film by acclaimed artist Jeremy Millar.

Book now: John Dee tours and evening lectures (places limited)

Send us your feedback & win a prize: take our two minute online survey and we’ll send John Dee exhibition gifts to one lucky winner every month. 

Visiting information

  • On arrival: sign in at our reception desk. A cloakroom is available. You can pick up a free multimedia visitor guide packed with information about RCP history and architecture, or make your way straight to our first floor gallery to meet John Dee.
  • Groups: Groups of six or more can visit the RCP by appointment only. Please email and we'd be delighted to advise you. Only groups led by our staff and authorised guides can explore the building.
  • The RCP is a busy conference venue and occasionally the exhibition gallery will become crowded as delegates move around the building, particularly at lunch time. We do appreciate your patience and you can explore the rest of our building, collections and medicinal garden at these times.
  • Access: The Royal College of Physicians' Grade I listed building has step free access to all areas. Please contact us to discuss your access requirements.
  • Travel: We are 5 minutes walk from Great Portland Street and Regent's Park underground stations, 10 minutes walk from Warren Street and just a short stroll along from the Wellcome Collection, British Library, Kings Cross and St Pancras stations.
  • Gifts: Love John Dee? Buy the mug and visit the RCP online shop for all your John Dee essentials

Exhibition team

  • Exhibition curators: ​Katie Birkwood, RCP rare books librarian and Sarah Backhouse, RCP exhibitions coordinator
  • Loans coordinator: Peter Basham, RCP collections officer
  • Publicist: Discover Medical London
  • Project manager: Emma Shepley, RCP senior curator