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John Dee

Picture of John Dee

Picture of John Dee

Short Biography of the life of John Dee - Magician,
Astrologer & Mathematician

The following biography information provides basic facts about the life John Dee:

  • Nationality - English

  • Lifespan - 1527 1608
  • Family - His father was Roland Dee a textile merchant and courtier. Mother was Jane Wild. John Dee was an only child
  • Education - Chelmsford Chantry School, St. John's College, Cambridge
  • Career - Mathematician, Astrologer, Magician

Biography of the life of John Dee - Magician, Astrologer & Mathematician
Dr. John Dee was one of the most fascinating characters of the Elizabethan period. The events of his life are filled with science, experiments, astrology and mathematics which he aligned with magic, the supernatural and alchemy. He was fascinated by the 'Dark Side'. His name, strangely enough, even reflects the life he would lead. The surname 'Dee' derives from the Welsh Celtic word 'du' which means black. John Dee was a brilliant scholar. Interested in Mathematics, physics and astrology which he studied at Cambridge and in Europe.

The Elizabethan era was the age of the Renaissance and new thinking and ideas. It was also the age of Nostradamus, Marsilio Ficino and Trithemius and the Renaissance fusion of Christianity, Hermetic Philosophy and its attendant sciences of magic, astrology and alchemy. His interest in science and mathematics led John Dee to a particular interest in astrology and all of its associated supernatural subjects. John Dee was well travelled was obsessive in collecting books and manuscripts. He collected so many books that he created the greatest personal library in England, which he housed at his mother's residence at Mortlake. John Dee and his extensive library attracted visits from the foremost scholars in England. His knowledge extended to Navigation and during his early travels to Europe he was associated with the great cartographer Gerardus Mercator. His knowledge of navigation and maps was an invaluable source of information to the Elizabethan Explorers such as Raleigh and Drake. His interest moved on to all subjects relating to the occult and he started working with a highly skilled Medium called Edward Kelley. Kelley used Chrystal balls and his skill in scrying and as a Medium to contact angels and spirits. The Enochian script was said to have been revealed to John Dee by the angels who were conjured by Kelley. John Dee became obsessed with the occult and spent most of his later life in search of its secrets...

Facts, Timeline & History about the life of John Dee - Magician, Astrologer & Mathematician
The following are additional facts about the life and history of John Dee via a comprehensive timeline:

  • John Dee was born 13 July 1527
  • 1503 -1566 Nostradamus was in the patronage of Catherine de Medici
  • 1542 - 1546 John Dee studied Greek, Latin, philosophy, geometry, arithmetic and astronomy at Cambridge University
  • 1546 - John Dee graduated with a B.A. in 1546
  • 1547 - 1550 Studies and Lectures in Europe
  • 1548 24 June arrived in Brussels where he studied with Gemma Frisius and Gerardus Mercator
  • 1550 John Dee was in Antwerp
  • 1551 John Dee brought instruments of navigation back from Europe
  • 1552 John Dee returned to England under the patronage of the Earl of Pembroke and then the Duke of Northumberland
  • 1552 John Dee under Royal patronage of King Edward VI
  • 1553 John Dee became astrologer to the queen, Mary Tudor
  • 1555 28 May - John Dee imprisoned for heresy and for being a magician accused of 'calculating' as a form of magic
  • 1555 August 1 Edward Kelley was born
  • 1555 August John Dee was released from prison
  • 1555 - 1587 John Dee became a consultant to the Muscovy Company formed by the navigator and explorer Sebastian Cabot together with a number of London merchants which was granted a monopoly of Anglo-Russian trade and aimed to search for the Northeast Passage
  • 1555 John Dee prepared nautical information, including navigation charts. He instructed the crews on geometry and cosmography before they left for voyages to North America in 1576.
  • 15 January 1556 - Dee presents plans for a national library to Queen Mary - but the scheme did not receive official backing
  • 1556 John Dee settles at his mother's house Mortlake in Richmond-upon-Thames where he establishes his own personal library
  • 1559 January 15 - Elizabeth I became Queen of England and the coronation date was picked from a horoscope cast for her by John Dee
  • 1562 John Dee in Antwerp - England passed the Witchcraft Statute
  • 1564 John Dee leaves Antwerp
  • 1568 Dee asserts that every object exerts force on every other
  • 1568 he published Propaedeumata Aphoristica and presented the work about Mathematics, Astrology and magic and to Queen Elizabeth
  • 1575 March 10 Queen Elizabeth I visited John Dee's library at Mortlake
  • 1576 John Dee instructed the crews of the explorer Sebastian Cabot, on geometry and cosmography before they left for voyages to North America
  • 1578 John Dee marries his third wife, Jane Fromond. They have eight children
  • 1579 - John Dee's mother gives him the house at Mortlake
  • 1581 - Dee and Edward Kelley start their "mystical experiments". Edward Kelley was a highly skilled medium who claimed to be able to contact angels and spirits which he did by gazing into a crystal ball
  • 1581 John Dee begins experimenting with Angelic magic
  • 1582 March 10 - John Dee and Edward Kelley start receiving the Heptarchia Mystica (John Dee became deeply involved in conversing with angels and spirits through Kelley and it dominated the latter part of his life)
  • 1582 March 20 John Dee and Edward Kelley receive the Enochian alphabet
  • 1583 March 29 John Dee and Edward Kelley start receiving Liber Logaeth
  • 1583 May 8 John Dee and Edward Kelley are foretold by the Angel Uriel of the death of the Queen of Scots (this occurred in 1587) and the coming of the Spanish Armada (this occurred in 1588)
  • 1583 - A mob destroyed a large part of John Dee's library at Mortlake
  • 1584 - John Dee and Edward Kelley move to Cracow
  • 1586 - John Dee and Edward Kelley move to Prague
  • 1589 John Dee returns to England
  • 1589 Edward Kelley stays in Prague and embarks on his public alchemical transmutations in Prague
  • 1595 John Dee became warden of Manchester College
  • 1595 Edward Kelley dies
  • 1605 Jane (Fromond) Dee and several of their children die of plague in Manchester. Following this tragic event John Dee returned to live in London
  • 1608 John Dee dies February 21 1608

Architect of the Elizabethan Theatre
James Burbage had many ideas about creating the first Elizabethan theatre. He started his career as a joiner and was therefore experienced in carpentry. But he did not have the knowledge required to create the similarity to the classical Greek and Roman theatres. But he knew a man who did. James Burbage consulted John Dee (1527-1608) on the design and construction of 'The Theatre'. John Dee had acquired many books and manuscripts over the years and his personal library, in his house at Mortlake, was the greatest  in England. John Dee was therefore extremely knowledgeable on a huge variety of different subjects and this knowledge included architecture. James Burbage relied on Dee's extensive architectural library to design the plans for the construction of The Theatre.

Books written by John Dee
John Dee became obsessed with the occult during his later years and the following books, written by John Dee reflect this interest in the supernatural:

  • Propaedeumata Aphoristica about Mathematics, Astrology and magic
  • Compendium Heptarchiae Mysticae - An early version of John Dee's primary magical text
  • Five Books of Mystery (Mysteriorum Libri Quinque) - These secret books recorded his experiments with 'angel magic'  and contained the earliest versions of Angelic or "Enochian" script
  • Mysteriorum Liber Sextus et Sanctus (Liber Loagaeth) - This book is described as 'a Book of Secrets and Key of this World' and as The Book of Enoch. The contents were said to have been revealed to John Dee by the angels
  • De Heptarchia Mystica - A summary by John Dee of his techniques for communicating with angels and practical benefits there from. 
  • The Hieroglyphic Monad contains information about symbolic language

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