The magic in J. K. Rowling’s series of Harry Potter novels is partially based on Renaissance traditions that played an important role in the development of Western science, including alchemy, astrology, and natural philosophy. Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance, Science, Magic, and Medicine explores the intersection of these worlds, featuring highlights from the collections of the History of Medicine Division at the National Library of Medicine.
The links at the NLM exhibits pages offer a rare opp0rtunity for delving into the history of the occult sciences (see especially educational unit 2 and unit 3). However, the UB Libraries and the History of Medicine collection have great resources to study as well.
Check out these sources:
- The occult sciences: sketches of the traditions and superstitions of past times, and the marvels of the present day, HSL History WZ 309 S637o 1855
- Alchemy :the Medieval alchemists and their royal art /by Johannes Fabricius, HSL History QD 26 F126f 1989
- The story of alchemy and early chemistry, HSL History QD11 S84 1960
The UB Libraries also have many of the books referred to in the exhibit, available through our electronic subscription to Early English Books Online (UB Only).
Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance, Science, Magic, and Medicine is on display through March 26th in the lobby of HSL. However, the magic and marvel of Harry Potter’s world, and its connection to the history of medicine and science, remain for the reader to discover in the many resources available in the UB Libraries.