FORMAN, Simon

(1552-1611)
Simon Forman was a prominent astrologer and medical practitioner of his day. His extensive diaries provide an invaluable record of Elizabethan medical practices and perceptions.
In the village of Quidhampton in 1552, Forman was born into a family that could not support his ambitions. He received some elementary schooling, but his father's death in 1563 interrupted Forman's formal education. In 1579 For­man settled on a career in physic and magic. After practicing in various locales, Forman moved to London in 1589. He acquired a significant clientele for whom he combined astrological practice with herbal remedies. Forman also performed astrological readings, interpreted dreams, and provided magical paraphernalia for his clients.
In 1593 the Royal College of Physicians called Forman's qualifications and practices into question. He was subjected to numerous examinations, fines, and periods of imprisonment. Forman abandoned London in 1601, setting up practice in Lambeth. The choice of Lambeth seems a result of Forman's marriage to Anne Baker of Lambeth in 1599. The couple had two children, Dorothy (1605), and Clement (1606); Forman was also accused of siring others. The Lambeth practice was extremely lucrative, and Forman found the means to earn a prac­titioner's license from Cambridge. At the time of his death on 8 September 1611, he was officially known as "Doctor Forman."
Forman's is the most complete autobiography of the Elizabethan period. His topics range from thoughts on the New World to reactions to William Shake­speare's* plays. His copious professional notes provide biographical information on members of various social classes, including Frances Howard, countess of Hertford, and Aemilia Lanyer.* A legend in his own time, Forman is referred to by name in a number of Elizabethan plays and was the inspiration for Ben Jonson's* Alchemist.
Bibliography
S. Forman, The Autobiography and Personal Diary of Dr. Simon Forman, ed. J. O. Halliwell, 1849.
A. L. Rowse, Sex and Society in Shakespeare's Age: Simon Forman the Astrologer, 1974.
Michele Osherow

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

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