The Castel of helth [print]
- corrected and in some places augmented by the fyrste authour therof, Syr Thomas Elyot, knyght, the yere of oure Lorde 1541.
- [Londini : In aedibvs Thomae Bertheleti typis impres. ..., 1541].
- Physical description
- , 86 [i.e. 94],  leaves ; 15 cm (8vo)
The Castel of Helth by Sir Thomas Elyot (c. 1490-1546) was the first widely read work of popular medicine written in the English language. A diplomat and scholar, who was twice sent as ambassador to the Emperor Charles V, and a friend of Sir Thomas More, Elyot is most widely-remembered for his classic of English prose writing and education entitled The Boke Named the Governour (1531), considered "the first work in recognizably modern English prose, to which Elyot added many new words." (Carter and Muir, eds., Printing and the Mind of Man  61). --
Perhaps because the book was written by a layman for a lay audience, the work was criticized by physicians, who felt that their turf was being invaded. But because of Elyot's skill in exposition, and perhaps also because of the notoriety it received, the book went through numerous printings. However, its publication history remains somewhat obscure. The first edition is thought to have appeared in 1534 because of allusions to it in two letters by Elyot to Oliver Cromwell. However, no copy of that edition survived. Pollard & Redgraves' A Short Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England . . . . I (1986) cites an undated edition that might have been issued in 1537, and two editions from 1539, both of which exist in only two copies. The S. T. C. also lists seven editions dated 1541, most of which are unacknowledged reprints. The 1541 edition was the first to contain Elyot's preface defending himself against criticisms from physicians that he knew nothing of medicine, and that authorship of The Castel of Helth was beneath the dignity of a knight and diplomat. --
The Castel of Helth has been called "a popular, sensible treatise on healthful living, with sound and practical advice on the recognition of the commoner symptoms of disease, as well as what to do about them." (Hunt) In it Elyot clearly states that he is not a physician, and that he was educated at home. In his introduction he provides a list of the authors he had read in philosophy and medicine, adding that a "worshipful physician" read to him Galen and certain other authors. It is very possible that this physician was Thomas Linacre. --
- The Lane Library copy, one of the issues from 1541, is preserved in a binding of contemporary blind-stamped calf.--J. Norman, 2006.
- Earliest possible date
- Latest possible date
- Title Variation
- Castell of helthe [print]
- Castle of health [print]
- Imprint (in Roman type): Londini in aedibvs Thomae Bertheleti typis impres. cvm privilegio ad imprimendvm solvm. Anno MDXLI.
- Actual publication date conjectured by STC.
- Printer's name and place of publication from colophon.
- Includes index.
- Leaves numbered on one side only; errors in foliation, i.e. leaves numbered: 1-72, 69, 78, 67, 74, 69, 60, 71, 78, 73-82, 73, 84-86.
- Last leaf blank.
- Text in black letter.
- Signatures: A-N⁸.
- ESTC S117186
- Hunt botanical cat., 155
- PMM 61
- Lane Medical Libary: Leaf N8 (blank) lacking.