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Sunday, 8 January 2012

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon was born on January 22, 1561 at York House near the Strand in London. He was the youngest son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, who was Elizabeth I's Lord Keeper of the Great Seal. He was a staunch enemy of Roman Catholics. His mother, Anne Cooke, was a Protestant daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke, an eminent humanist, scholar and tutor to Edward VI. She was famous for her learning and published translations from Italian and Latin.

Bacon entered Trinity College, Cambridge at the age of 13. He  lived there for three years there with his older brother Anthony Bacon. His studies of science there brought him to the conclusion that the methods (and thus the results) were erroneous.

The 18-year-old Francis Bacon. 

Bacon waited until his mid 40s before marrying one Alice Barnham (1592-1650) on May 10, 1606. The wedding took place in St Marylebone's Chapel, which was located in a village to the north of London, with the reception at the Strand estate. Alice had yet to reach her 14th birthday when they wed. Their marriage led to no children.

In 1621, Bacon was accused of taking bribes, heavily fined, and removed from Parliament and all offices. They lost their York House mansion and left London in 1622.

Reports of increasing friction in the marriage appeared, with speculation that some of this may have also been due to financial resources not being as abundantly available to the extravagant Alice as she was accustomed to in the past.  In addition there was rumors of an ongoing affair with a Mr. John Underhill.

Engraving of Alice Bunham

In 1625, Bacon became estranged from his wife, apparently believing her of adultery with Underhill. He rewrote his will, revoking his legacy to Alice.

Bacon wrote over 30 philosophical books and many other legal, scientific and many other popular works. He often didn't finish ambitious works which he'd started such as Novum Organium Among his works were his February 7, 1597 publication Essays, which were the first essays to be actually called essay.

Portrait of Bacon by Frans Pourbus (1617),

Bacon's New Atlantis was a fable about a city on an imaginary Pacific island ran by scholars called Ben Salem. Its advanced population had aircraft, hearing aids, refrigerators and submarines. One of the first ever Science Fiction novels, it was was published posthumously in 1526 and was a best seller for more than a decade.

He developed binary using only "a" & "b" in 5 letter combinations for letters of the alphabet.

Bacon was driving in his carriage one wintry day in Highgate, North London, when he decided on impulse to observe the effect of cold on the preservation of meat. Bacon stopped his carriage, purchased a chicken and stuffed it with snow. Soon afterwards he was seized by a chill, which developed into bronchitis. Feeling ill and beginning to shiver violently, Bacon made his way to the nearby house of his friend Earl of Arundel. He was given a damp bed-so damp that his condition worsened and he died of pneumonia on April 9, 1626.

Less than two weeks after Bacon's death, Alice Barnham Bacon married Mr. John Underhill. 

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