Background to the web site and bibliography
The purpose of this site is to compile and publish a second edition of my bibliography on alchemy which was first published in 1980 as Alchemy: a bibliography of English-language writings. The bibliography was originally compiled for my Library Association (now the Charted Institute of Library and Information Professionals) Fellowship thesis. The Fellowship was awarded with Distinction. The published bibliography was awarded the Besterman Medal for the best bibliography of 1980 and was well reviewed in the academic press. It has been out of print for quite some time.
I have been interested in alchemy for nearly 50 years, and the bibliography is something I am proud of. It seemed, therefore, to be an interesting project as I am nearing retirement to attempt to bring it up to date - hence these web pages.
The bibliography is very much an ongoing work and will initially be compiled from the use of the Internet. I no longer live near London and it is therefore more difficult to actually consult the book and journal literature. The Internet has been the major development in the course of my working life, and it seems appropriate to capture the wealth of alchemical information and reprints that exist. The advantage of the Internet is the way in which alchemical literature has been made available much more widely. The two main disadvantages are the ephemeral nature of some web sites and the lack of academic rigour applied to the texts that are published. Having entered that caveat, there are of course many good sites, and Adam McLean's Alchemy web site and virtual library ranks as the best of all and a superb site on any topic. More details will be found in the bibliography.
I may develop this theme onto a separate page, but here are some of the reasons that I find alchemy a fascinating topic, in no particular order:
One of the problematic issues in alchemy is its definition. The most acceptable seems to be the one proposed by Sheppard [Sheppard, H. J.: 1986, 'European Alchemy in the Context of a Universal Definition', Wolfenbütteler Forschungen, Bd. 32, 13 - 17]: "Alchemy is the art of liberating parts of the Cosmos from temporal existence and achieving perfection which, for metals is gold, and for man, longevity, then immortality and, finally, redemption. Material perfection was sought through the action of a preparation (Philosopher's Stone for metals; Elixir of Life for humans), while spiritual ennoblement resulted from some form of inner revelation or other enlightenment (Gnosis, for example, in Hellenistic and western practices).”
Can you help?
I would welcome help in the following areas:
The bibliography is very much an ongoing work and will be changing frequently. Bookmark this page and visit it regularly.
The bibliography is copyright © Alan Pritchard 1980-2007.
I am happy for users to download the bibliography and make a single copy for their own private study or research. It is not to be placed on any other web site or otherwise distributed without my written permission.
If you want to contact me email me at
27 May 2007