Search - List of Books by John Chamberlain
"I'm more interested in seeing what the material tells me than in imposing my will on it." -- John Chamberlain
John Chamberlain (1553—1628) was the author of a series of letters written in England from 1597 to 1626, notable for their historical value and their literary qualities. In the view of historian Wallace Notestein, Chamberlain's letters "constitute the first considerable body of letters in English history and literature that the modern reader can easily follow". They are an essential source for scholars who study the period.Thomson, vii, xi.? "It is, in fact, just about impossible to write about any aspect of the Jacobean period without quoting Chamberlain at least once." Lee, 3.
Chamberlain's father was a successful ironmonger, who left him enough money to live on for the rest of his life without needing to earn a living. Though unambitious for himself, Chamberlain used his network of friends in high places to assist the career of Dudley Carleton, who rose from a minor position in the diplomatic service to become Secretary of State shortly after Chamberlain's death. Carleton preserved the long correspondence between himself and Chamberlain, which contains the majority of Chamberlain's surviving letters. Chamberlain maintained a similar correspondence with Sir Ralph Winwood, for many years ambassador at The Hague, and he presumably sent many other letters to his friends.
Chamberlain wrote at least one long letter a week. His purpose was more than social; it was to provide his friends, posted abroad in foreign embassies and out of touch with the London scene, with useful and reliable information about the events and issues of the day. Chamberlain would walk daily to St Paul's Cathedral to gather the latest news on the London grapevine and then report it to his correspondents as accurately and objectively as possible, including public and private opinion on the value of the information. Chamberlain is a particularly valuable source for contemporary opinion on King James I, for information about the royal family and the court, and for details of English trading activities in the earliest days of empire.
Chamberlain is valued not just as a commentator but as a writer. Historian A. L. Rowse has called him "the best letter writer of his time". Chamberlain takes care to observe without intruding his own opinions; though his disapproval of the laxity of the day is apparent, he does not waste words on moral indignation. He entertains his correspondents by leavening factual information with humour and vivid details, and includes lighter topics and anecdotes to keep the reader's interest. In the view of scholar Maurice Lee, Jr., the letters that passed between John Chamberlain and Dudley Carleton are "the most interesting private correspondence of Jacobean England".
Total Books: 48
King James and the Court more �