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The Alchemist and the Royal Typographer: John Dee and Willem Sylvius

  • 2014-10-26
  • Antwerp, Belgium
January 2014 marks the 450th anniversary of one of the most mysterious alchemical works ever published: John Dee’s Monas Hieroglyphica. Dee composed and published this work whilst living in the house of the Royal Typographer, Willem Silvius, and the Monas includes a fulsome dedicatory letter to Silvius, which stresses his role in bringing the work to fruition. This colloquium will bring together specialists on John Dee and specialists on late sixteenth-century print culture and humanistic activities in Antwerp. The aim of the colloquium is to investigate the links between Antwerp’s vibrant print culture and its relationship to alchemy and the occult philosophy in the late sixteenth century.

The Plantin Museum has kindly offered the use of a lecture room in the museum, and has been very encouraging about the event, as in 2014 it will be promoting a series of exhibitions and events relating to the topic ‘Antwerp: Print Capital of Europe’.


9.45 Welcome

Stephen Clucas (Birkbeck, University of London), “The printer and the alchemist: John Dee’s Monas Hieroglyphica after 450 years”

Peter J. Forshaw (University of Amsterdam), “John Dee and the Stars (Astrology, Magic, and Alchemy)”

11.30-12.00 Coffee Break


Steven Vanden Broecke (University of Ghent) “Spirit, print, and the public good in the productions of Willem Silvius”

Manuel Mertens, “Willem Silvius and the archive”

13.30-14.30 LUNCH


Goran Proot, “The typographical identity of the Monas hieroglyphica”

Jeroen J. M. Vandommele, “Mount Parnassus in print. Silvius and the printed edition of the Antwerp
landjuweel of 1561”

16.00-16.30 – Coffee Break


Arjan Van Dixhoorn, “Printers and the Culture of Knowledge in Sixteenth Century Antwerp:
The Vernacular Perspective”

Registration fee: 20 Euros. To register please email Stephen Clucas:

Address: Plantin Museum,

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