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Boyle, Robert


Subject Literature » Renaissance Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405194495.2012.x


Robert Boyle (1627–91), natural historian and philosopher, and writer on religious and ethical topics, was a key figure in the development of science, particularly important for contributions to chemistry and experimental methodology. He wrote prolifically in various genres, and is especially notable in the development of the essay. Boyle was born on 25 January 1627 in Lismore, Ireland, the fourteenth child of Richard Boyle, the wealthy first earl of Cork. He was educated at Eton College from 1635 to 1638, and went on a Continental tour from 1639 to 1644. On his return he began to write, mostly on ethics and religion, experimenting with genres including the essay, meditation, and romance. Important early writings include the ‘Account of Philaretus during his minority’ (1648 or 1649), a spiritual autobiography, and The martyrdom of Theodora and of Didymus , a romance allegorizing love and piety, first published, anonymously and much revised, in 1687. He studied biblical languages and history, and produced essays and letters later incorporated into Some motives and incentives to the love of God (1659), also known as Seraphick love , his most reprinted work in the seventeenth century. In the late 1640s he started a correspondence with the intelligencer Samuel Hartlib. In three letters and a manuscript dating from 1646 and 1647 he referred to an ‘Invisible College’, dedicated to ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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