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Growing in the Vernacular: Popularization and Dissemination

William Turner’s 1551 A New Herball, the culmination of years of education and exile abroad, brought the Latinate and Greek botanical traditions to Turner’s English audience. The text, written in the English vernacular, was a self-conscious popularization of knowledge previously reserved for those able to grace the halls of Cambridge and Oxford, an elite and privileged few. Although Turner himself was a Cambridge graduate, his education was made possible by a generous patron, as were his subsequent writings. As an author and naturalist, Turner worked to disseminate practical information to a readership that did not have Latin; in the case of A New Herball, Turner wrote with the apothecaries of England in mind and an allegiance to vernacular undergirded by his Calvinist faith.