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Dr Dee and daughter

10 October 2014

Until I hear the performance of the Alchemist's Daughter in the Chapter House of Manchester Cathedral, I had never known of the association of Dr John Dee, the mathematician, astrologer, alchemist, and adviser to Queen Elizabeth I, with the city of Manchester.

He was an extraordinary early scientist who amassed the first significant personal library, and for much of his life was dogged by accusations of devil worship. After travels abroad, and many vicissitudes, he returned to find his home and library vandalised, and, having sought help from Elizabeth in 1595, she appointed him Warden of Christ's College, Manchester, the college of clergy that eventually became the foundation of Manchester Cathedral.

His youngest daughter, Katherine, had travelled across Europe with him, and followed him to Manchester (and later to Mortlake), caring for him until the end of his life. The play is her story, and her part in the production was taken by the Priest-in-Charge of St Nicholas's, Burnage, and poet-in-residence of Manchester Cathedral, the Revd Dr Rachel Mann (below).

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