a bibliography of English-language writings


  1. I would urge that you read the Using the bibliography page.
  2. If you cannot find what you want, email me at and I will try to include any relevant material in the next update.

In the light of some discussions that I had with a user of the bibliography who was having some difficulty, I thought that it might be helpful to provide some more detailed instructions on using the bibliography and finding specific types of information.

0. HOW TO OBTAIN MATERIAL IN THE BIBLIOGRAPHY. In the course of a discussion with a reviewer, I was asked the question of how a users of the bibliography could obtain an item that was of interest. This is going to vary somewhat depending upon which country he/she lives in, but some broad outlines (that I shall expand upon in the future) are:


(a)    Online sources. Whenever possible, I have included one or more links to online sources. These are all listed in the 'Available Online' page. There is a wide range of books and journal articles, with some theses and other material there. In some cases the links do lead to paid services, but I try to keep these to a minimum.


(b)    Buy the book. I have now expanded the page of links to Amazon and other sources for purchase (the Alchemy Bookshop). If you follow the active link (in blue) through and purchase from Amazon, I get a small percentage of the price, which helps to offset the cost of maintaining this site and expenses in compiling the bibliography. In other cases the link leads through to a site from which I get nothing. Entries on the Bookshop page are arranged alphabetically by author with limited bibliographic details (author, title, publisher, date, ISBN), so that you can quickly identify the edition that you want. Inclusion of all books on the bookshop page is going to take some time, so if you cannot find what you are looking for - use the Amazon search boxes at the top of the page. In order to conserve bandwidth, I have not included the cover illustrations that Amazon offers, but if you hover with your mouse over the active links, you will see the cover and prices. If hover does not appear to work, then this will be a direct link to those publishers who sell direct.


(c)    Obtain on library interlibrary loan. You can go to your local library and get the item on interlibrary loan - possibly. The material included in the bibliography is generally seen as fringe by librarians and is rare. Also the books themselves rarely seem to appear in national bibliographies, for example, I have not found any copies of Kessinger or Holmes reprints in the Library of Congress catalogue. I am not sure of the situation in other countries (I will update myself on this), but in the UK, the first things to check are the British Library catalogue and the COPAC union catalogue to see whether the items are held anywhere. 


1. If you cannot find what you are looking for, then please email me at . The bibliography is not complete (see below), and there may well be information that I have not input into the new database.

2. The bibliography aims to be comprehensive but is very much a Work-In-Progress. The whole of the first edition is now included and I am working through a collection of references and web sites that I have collected. Even at the moment the bibliography contains references to over 12,000 items.

3. SCOPE OF THE BIBLIOGRAPHY. The bibliography covers all aspects of alchemy - both the core texts, writings discussing alchemy, and studies of alchemical influences on other disciplines and authors. Also includes are closely related topics such as Gnosticism, Rosicrucians, Kabbalah, as well as background topics such as the history of science and chemistry. The bibliography covers all types of materials including books, journal articles, newspaper articles, theses, web sites, films and videos, etc. Although I have tried to include references in a lot of fringe material, about the only items that are not included are discussions of alchemy and alchemists in computer games such as Fullmetal Alchemist or other role-playing games such as World of Warcraft. These may be included at a later stage.

4. This is important and has been the subject of some misunderstanding. The bibliography is arranged in a classified sequence. This means that it is arranged in the same way as a public or academic library.


5. The key to the classification is the Subject Index, but this does not directly Web-link you to the classified sequence in the main bibliography. You cannot click on an entry and go directly to the subject heading in the main bibliography. This may possibly come in the future, but not yet.



    The references in the bibliography are arranged in 4 main categories:


        1.    Core works on alchemy

        3.    Closely related topics

        5     Background topics

        7.    Alchemical influences and interpretations


        Category 1. is subdivided into:


                1A    Primary texts. These are arranged by country/culture, e.g. 1A(42) England, and then alphabetically by author, e.g. 1A(42) [FLU] for Robert Fludd. Anonymous works are generally filed at the beginning of the country sequence


                1E Works on alchemy in specific countries and about individual adepts. Again, arranged initially by country/culture and then alphabetically (if applicable), e.g. 1E(43) [KHU] Heinrich Khunrath (Germany), or 1E(924) Jewish alchemy.


                1J General works on alchemy. General studies/introductions to alchemy which do not fall into any other category.


                1N Special topics in alchemy. This is where references to studies on specific aspects of alchemy can be found. I have used a modified version of the Dewey Decimal classification  extensively to subdivide this section, e.g. 1N:016 Bibliographies on alchemy, or 1N:541.361 Calcination (using the chemistry schedule of DDC). Note carefully that the same subdivision may be used in more than one Main Category. For example as study of the role of the Cabala in Alchemy would be found at 1N:135.47, General studies on the Cabala at 3:135.47, and the influence of alchemy on the Cabala would be found at 7:135.47. The subject index will indicate the differences.
                Novels about alchemy or alchemists (e.g.Clarke's The chymical wedding) will generally be found at the end of the classified sequence under 'Fic'. Where a novel is about a specific alchemist, I have subdivided by name, e.g. Fic [DEE] for novels about Dee. Studies on the influence of alchemy on, say, Yeats will be found at Main Category 7.


                1P Symbols and symbolism. This is a new classification category where will be found all material relating to the core topic in alchemical studies. As the study of symbolism is central to the study of alchemy, it made sense to highlight this area. It will also enable more precise classification of the various studies on symbolism. The new class numbers will appear in the subject index. This section is intended to include all studies of symbolism (e.g. 'the egg in alchemy', Arthurian symbolism, colour symbolism, 'the dragon of the alchemists'), as well as items relating to illustrations, emblem books, mandalas etc. Studies on the symbolism of an alchemical author will still be found at the number of the author, followed by '3fr', e.g Adam McLean's Freher's mystical emblems will be found at 1A(43) [FRE]-3fr. Studies on the alchemical symbolism found in non-alchemical authors will still be found in Section 7, e.g. Hayes' Alchemical imagery in John Donne's "A nocturnal upon S. Lucies day" will be found at 7:821.3 [DON]-3fr


            Category 3 (Closely related topics) covers topics which, whilst not directly alchemical have a very close affinity, e.g. Hermetica, Gnosticism, Rosicrucianism.


            Category 5 (Background topics) covers topics which are less closely related to alchemy or which set the background to alchemy. Here you will find topics such as occultism, the development of science, histories of science and chemistry.


            Category 7 (Alchemical influences and interpretations) is in many ways the most interesting. Here you will find studies on the cultural influences of alchemy and Hermeticism, including philosophy, psychology (Jung), Mysticism (Boehme, Law, etc), Politics, Science, Medicine, Art and then the major section on literature, finishing with the (English) Civil War.




    Go to the Subject Index and either use your browser Find facility or scroll down through the subjects. Note that until I finish reclassifying there is a section alphabetical sequence that relates to the old classification codes beginning C. It is worth checking this sequence as well. Having found your subject (say, Political theory), note the class number (7:320.01) and use the hyperlink at the top of the page to the main Bibliography. The subject index entries are NOT themselves hyperlinks.


    Let me emphasise again, that this is primarily as SUBJECT index to the main subject. It is not, generally, an index to secondary subjects, or to authors, publishers, etc. That is the General Index (described below). There are authors included where these are the subject of a study OR where they are the author of a primary text (i.e. there entry will appear in category 1A).

    So there will be 'author' entries for writers such as Dee, Flamel, Ko Hung, (in the primary texts section 1A)

    As there will be for studies on alchemical writers such as Newton, Khunrath, Maier (studies on adepts 1E)
    As there will be for studies on alchemy in Yeats, Chaucer, Botticelli, Winstanley (in the influences section 7)


    There will not be entries for all the works written by, say, Frank Sherwood Taylor, but there would be if there has been a study of his works or an obituary (as the index entry indicates: 'Taylor, Frank Sherwood: Writers about alchemy 1N:920 [TAY]')


    An additional way to find a secondary topic is to go to the main bibliography and use your browser Find facility to search the full text of the bibliography, so for example if you search for 'Dee' you will find many references to Dee in book titles and in some notes about articles and books.





    These will all be found in the General Index at the end of the Bibliography.


8. Finding some specific types of material


    Novels and fiction. All popular fiction that has alchemists as characters (and there is a surprising amount of it) has been reclassified to 'Fic' and now appears at the end of the sequence. More serious works of fiction and books or authors who have been the subject of studies are still within the Special topics section at 1N:8... (e.g. 1N:823.914 for English fiction from 1945-1999). This would include authors such as Lindsay Clarke. Finally non-alchemical authors who have been studied for alchemical themes appear at 7:8... This covers authors such as Joyce, Yeats etc. It is a somewhat arbitrary separation, I know, and I don't claim to have been totally consistent. Studies of alchemical or Hermetic imagery in general fiction (e.g. Durrell, Yeats, Shakespeare, etc) will be found at main category 7:8... - again subdivided by country, form of literature and period, e.g. studies on Goethe will be found at 7:833.6

    Art. There is a similar split in Art. Artistic representations of alchemists (e.g. by Teniers) will be found at 1N:7... - subdivided by form and then country. Main sections of form are drawing: 740; painting: 750; graphic art and engraving: 760. An example would be painting by Frans van Mieris at 1N:759(492). Studies on alchemical or Hermetic images on artists (e.g. Bosch, Botticelli) will be found at 7:7..., again subdivided by form and country. An example here would be the study on Botticelli's Primavera will be found at 7:759(5) [BOT].


    Items available online. A url has been provided for those items that are available online. In some cases additional urls may appear in the notes. Be aware, though, that some urls may lead to subscription databases such as JStor.




    Authors, editors, translators, etc. If these have complex surnames, they have generally been entered under the last portion of the surname. This avoids the problem of deciding what is the 'correct' name.


    Titles. I have used uniform titles in many cases to draw together the same work that has been published under different titles. For example [Emerald Tablet] or [Introitus apertus]. [Works] has been used to indicate either full or partial collections from an author. Meaningful subsidiary titles (e.g. those preceded by 'or' in older books) will appear in the General Index. At the moment, they will not appear in italics.


    Publishers. Non-commercial publishers will appear in the General Index.


    URLs. These have been provided for material that is available on the Internet. I have included references to material to paid-for services (e.g. via JSTOR or EEBO) as some users working in universities may have access to these. Preference is always given to freely available sources. The database I am using only allows one entry in the url field, so additional links appear in the description field. These will need to be cut & pasted into a browser, as they will not be active links.


    Description. Detailed notes and contents have been included. Anything in "" has been drawn from a third party (e.g. the short description in the Alchemy web site, descriptions in eBay, or the abstract provided by an abstracting service). Any other comments are my own.


    Series. Series entries always appear as the first item in the Description, in brackets. I have standardised the layout to read "series name; number" regardless of whether the numbering is for a Part, a Number etc, e.g. (Magnum Opus Hermetic sourceworks; 6). The series title only (without the numbering) will appear in the General Index.


   Check field. In my opinion, it is important for a bibliography to indicate whether the compiler has seen an item, or whether the reference to it has been included from another source. I have made a change to the check field. This now just includes whether an item was included in the first edition, whether it has been seen or whether it is something I will be examining in the future. It still appears after the Description in []. This indicates whether an item has been examined (indicated by #) or not yet seen (*), the number of the item in the original published work, #ABEL2 indicates a new item that has been seen for the first time in this second edition. There are a few items from the first edition (indicated by a number) which have both * and #. This indicates that I did look at the item originally, but need to check something again.


    Some specific notes


        Hermetic Journal. Scanning of this journal has now been completed. Not all articles appear in the bibliography, as I judge that some of them are not really relevant to alchemy (even with my fairly inclusive policy). Page numbers may not be entirely accurate, and will tend to be the first and last pages. Information has come from the CD edition and advertising pages were removed from this.


        Accents. It has not proved possible to include all accents in the bibliography owing to the limitations of the Windows code page.


    Abbreviations and sources:

           CHF. Chemical Heritage Foundation library catalogue

            Duveen. A reference to the page number in Duveen's Bibliotheca alchemica et chemica (1965), e.g {Duveen 4}

            EEBO. Early English Books Online


          Gilbert. Entry number in Gilbert's A.E. Waite: a bibliography (1983)

          STC. Item number in Short title catalogue

          P (generally in Publishers field): Press, Presses

          Publ (generally in Publishers field): Publisher, Publishers, Publication, Publications, Publishing

          Univ (generally in Publishers field): University, Universities

          Wing2. Wing 2nd edition.




As the bibliography has grown, so have the entries in the general index. I have therefore started to differentiate between the roles of the names (both personal and corporate) that appear in it. So, rather than an undifferentiated lists of item numbers under, say A.E. Waite, I am adding a 2 or 3-letter code in brackets after the name to indicate whether for that item, he was the translator, editor, etc. Any personal or corporate names that do not have a code will be for primary authors or editors of collective works. The codes that might appear after a name are:


     bks    Bookseller (bear in mind that the role of bookseller and publisher for early works is rather similar)

    ed    Editor

    edt    Editor and translator

    il        Illustrator

    int    the writer of an Introduction

    ptr    Printer

    pu    Publisher

    su     Subject (to indicate that the name is a secondary subject)

    tr        Translator



The bibliography has been developed using the Library Master Bibliographic and Textual Database Manager. A program that I cannot praise highly enough. I spent some months evaluating various bibliography systems, but Library Master seemed to be the best. This impression has not been changed over the 3 or 4 years of use. The developer Dr Harry Hahne is very responsive to support calls and to suggestions for enhancements.



© Alan Pritchard 2008.

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