“People who think that angels talk to them may occasionally turn up in the seat next to you on the bus, but you don’t find many working as scientists. John Dee, perhaps the greatest scientific mind in Tudor England, believed that God sent angels to instruct him through specially chosen intermediaries.
It is hard for us today to reconcile Dee the pioneering mathematician, astronomer and navigational theorist with the credulous figure who swallowed all the assertions made by the shady medium Edward Kelley – including the one about how God wanted Dee to let Kelley have sex with his pretty young wife.
But for the novelist Phil Rickman, Dee is not a contradictory character. “He was a very religious person, which is why he was desperate to believe Kelley, but also why he was a great scientist. The experiments were his way of trying to get closer to God, to see into God’s mind.”
Rickman, a softly spoken Lancastrian known to BBC Radio Wales listeners as the station’s resident book expert “Phil the Shelf”, has spent years threading his way through the ins and outs of Dee’s extraordinary mind, and has just published his second crime novel featuring Dee.
The Heresy of Dr Dee sees Dee visiting his old family home in the small Welsh village of Pilleth, a decaying place that seems haunted — perhaps literally — by the ghosts of those slaughtered in the Battle of Bryn Glas, a notoriously bloody encounter between the English and Welsh that took place nearby in 1402.” [via]