A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Burton, Robert
Burton, Robert (1577-1640).—Miscellaneous writer, b. at Lindley, Leicestershire, and ed. at Oxf., took orders, and became Vicar of St. Thomas, Oxf., 1616, and Rector of Segrave, Leicestershire, 1630. Subject to depression of spirits, he wrote as an antidote the singular book which has given him fame. The Anatomy of Melancholy, in which he appears under the name of Democritus Junior, was pub. in 1621, and had great popularity. In the words of Warton, "The author's variety of learning, his quotations from rare and curious books, his pedantry sparkling with rude wit and shapeless elegance ... have rendered it a repertory of amusement and information." It has also proved a store-house from which later authors have not scrupled to draw without acknowledgment. It was a favourite book of Dr. Johnson. B. was a mathematician and dabbled in astrology. When not under depression he was an amusing companion, "very merry, facete, and juvenile," and a person of "great honesty, plain dealing, and charity."
The best ed. is that of Rev. A.R. Shilleto, with introduction by A.H. Bullen (3 vols. 1893).