This is the first scholarly edition of Aubrey's Brief Lives since 1898, the first to include the complete text of the three Brief Lives manuscripts (including censored and deleted material, title pages, antiquarian notes, and the indices), and the first to provide a full general and critical introduction and comprehensive commentary.
This edition is the first to respect the original arrangement of the Lives in Aubrey's manuscripts. Brief Lives is presented as an antiquarian and collaborative text, containing the autograph papers of biographical subjects, the annotations of those among whom the manuscripts circulated, and wax seals. As well as 25 facsimile pages, there are over 160 images, reproducing for the first time all Aubrey's horoscopes, pedigrees, coats of arms, and topographical sketches as they are found
in the manuscripts. The text respects the mise-en-page of the manuscript and its status as an incomplete and heavily revised work-in-progress while presenting an edited, rather than a diplomatic, text.
The commentary presents extensive new research on manuscript sources including much material not previously known to be Aubrey's or associated with him. It also reflects the state of current scholarship. Each life is introduced by a headnote placing the life in context. This gives the dates and sequence of composition and an account of Aubrey's relationship with the biographical subject, the circulation of knowledge of that subject in Aubrey's circle, and a full account of Aubrey's notes on the
subject of the life in other manuscripts and correspondence. Aubrey's biographical informants also have a long note, as do uncompleted or missing Lives.
Kate Bennett was a Junior Research Fellow at Christ Church, Oxford, and a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow. She was Fellow in English at Pembroke College, Cambridge, and a Research Fellow of New College, Oxford. She teaches English at Magdalen, Oxford, and is an Associate Fellow at the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance at the University of Warwick.