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Peter Heylyn

Mikrokosmos: A Little Description of the Great World

I. L. & W. T. for William Turner & Thomas Huggins



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Third edition of Heylyn's famed work of geography.

  • Peter Heylyn (English).
  • Mikrokosmos. A Little Description of the Great World.
  • Oxford: by I. L. & W. T. for William Turner & Thomas Huggins, 1627.
  • (iv)807pp.(viii).
  • Complete with the folding table before p.7, M5 a cancel, and Fff3 with publisher's slip (containing revised version of a poem) pasted over concluding portion of the text (as mentioned by Madan).
  • Bound in fine full contemporary speckled calf over cords, spine paneled in blind, covers double ruled in blind.

This is a famous work of historical geography, encyclopedic in nature, giving us a glimpse of a young Oxford man's knowledge (with all its deficiencies) of the world in 1621, the original date of publication. When the author comes to Siena, for example, he tells us of the Sienese Pope Pius II, and as he moves through Germany, he describes the spread of Lutheranism. The first edition contained the remark that "France is a greater and more famous kingdom" than England. The author diplomatically explained to the outraged James I that "is" was a mistake for "was," but wisely thought it best to cut the sentence from subsequent editions. Well over half the volume is devoted to Europe, and the Near East, as the land of the Bible, is also extensively described. The African section is focused on North Africa, with Egypt taking the lion's share, and almost no knowledge of sub-Saharan Africa except for Madagascar is manifested. Heylyn opens his final section, on America, with the prescient remark that instead of "America," "this great tract of land ought, and that most aptly, to bee called the New World; New for the late discovery, and World, for the vast spaciousness of it." He tells of Columbus and has a good deal of information on Mexico, Nicaragua, Brazil, Peru and Cuba. Heylyn mentions Virginia, Florida and the French discoveries in Canada, but the rest of North America is a blank to him, as he wrote only a year after the pilgrims had arrived on its shores. Peter Heylyn (1600–62) was a lecturer on historical geography at Oxford; this book constitutes, in effect, his lecture notes. An advocate of high-church Anglicanism, Heylyn won the favor of Charles I and Archbishop Laud, and opposed the Parliamentarians as well as Prynne for his writing of Histrio-mastix. The present work is his first; Heylyn, to whom controversy was meat and drink, went on to pen more than 50 more books. Early editions of this work are uncommon to begin with and are rarely found, as here, in unrepaired original bindings.


Madan 1627, 4.

Cox II, 339.

Sabin 31656.

STC 13278.

Lowndes II, 1059.

Condition Report

Star iconVery Good
Like New

Minor scuff to front cover.

Two small worm holes near hear of spine.

Internally clean and bright.

Two leaves with closed tears expertly repaired.

A handful of leaves with faint damp stains

Hinges fine, head and foot of spine fine.


Height: 7.5 inches / 19.05 cm
Width: 6 inches / 15.24 cm




History, Travel, topography and voyages

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