BURTON, ROBERT (1577-1640, author of 'The Anatomy of Melancholy')
This document is signed in the year that The Anatomy of Melancholy was first published.
It is often stated, on the authority of The Index of Literary Manuscripts, that examples of Robert Burton's autograph are rare and that, apart from the present deed, listed in the Index, all that is known to survive in his hand is a single letter, a fragment of another letter, his play Philosophaster, two fragmentary proof sheets of the Anatomy, a letter docket, some book annotations [in fact a not inconsiderable number] and his will. This count ignores his signature or initials in eighty per cent of the 1,738 books that he owned, most of which he bequeathed to the Bodleian Library and to Christ Church, Oxford (see Nicolas Kiessling, The Library of Robert Burton, The Oxford Bibliographical Society, 1988). Thus, while one of the most common seventeenth-century literary signatures in a sense, Burton's is otherwise unobtainable for purchase, the signature on the present document being the only example of Burton's hand available to the present-day collector. Burton was a benefactor of the Bodleian Library.