Herbalist to King Charles I, John Parkinson (1567-1650) was a master apothecary, herbalist and gardener. Famous in his own lifetime for his influential books, his magnus opus was published in 1640, his Theatrum Botanicum, which ran to 1 788 large pages. The sheer scope and size was perhaps to prove The Herbalist's Bible's downfall because, while it was much revered and indeed plagiarised, it was never reprinted and now has the status of an extremely valuable rare book.
Parkinson was writing at a time when Western herbalism was at its zenith and his skills as a plantsman (from his grounds in Covent Garden) combined perfectly with his passion for science, observation and historical scholarship. In this editor's selection, Julie and Matthew have printed Parkinson's clear and lively description of a chosen plant's vertues or healing properties, adding their own modern commentary and a contemporary take on his almost-forgotten herbal recipes. Busy herbalists and keen amateurs will welcome this restoration and sensible highlighting of Parkinson's huge lost classic.