Painted portrait of English physician and author Thomas Browne.

Thomas Browne

(1605 - 1682)

Thomas Browne was a physician and the author of Religio Medici, a book that he described as “the cosmography of myself,” and that prompted Virginia Woolf to call him “the first of the autobiographers.” “We carry with us the wonders we seek without us,” Browne claimed. “There is all Africa and her prodigies in us.” Famous throughout England as a doctor and writer, Browne was also a loyal Royalist, attaining a knighthood from Charles II in 1671.

All Writing


After being tortured, an Athenian named Herostratus confessed to having set fire to the Temple of Artemis during the fourth century bc in order to attain long-lasting fame. Ephesian officials executed Herostratus and ordered his name removed from public record and never to be uttered again. Despite these injunctions—known as damnatio memoriae—Herostratus’ name appeared in the writings of Strabo and Theopompus. The term Herostratic fame thus refers to “fame gained at any cost.” “Herostratus lives that burned the Temple of Diana,” wrote Thomas Browne in 1658. “He is almost lost that built it.”

Voices In Time

1658 | Norwich


Thomas Browne gets lost in time.More

’Tis not a ridiculous devotion to say a prayer before a game at tables?

—Thomas Browne, 1642

Man is a noble animal, splendid in ashes and pompous in the grave.

—Thomas Browne, 1658

Issues Contributed