Essays (unabridged)

Audio Sample

Francis Bacon


Read by David Timson


Sir Francis Bacon, sometimes known as the father of empiricism, was one of the major political figures of his day, his career culminating as Lord Chancellor under King James I in 1617. Bacon wrote widely, but it is the Essays (published in its third edition in 1625, the year before his death) for which he is best known. Deftly written and often displaying a cutting wit, they cover a wide range of subjects including death, love, marriage, ambition and atheism.

Bacon described the Essays as ‘recreations of my other studies’, and clearly drew on the ideas of earlier thinkers and writers, particularly Aristotle and Michel de Montaigne. The work had much influence on later generations and on the development of the English essay.

The Times – Audiobook of the Week
  • Running Time: 6 h 19 m

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    Digital ISBN:978-1-78198-402-4
    Cat. no.:NA0538
    Edited by:Timothy Brown
    Released:February 22
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‘“What is Truth?” said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer.’ So begin the Essays of the scientist and politician Sir Francis Bacon. Never out of print since they were published in 1625, they are witty, candid and often provocative (this is a man who is quoted as saying: ‘I usually accept bribes from both sides so that tainted money can never influence my decision’).

My favourites include Of Studies (‘Some books are to be tasted, others swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested’), Of Gardens (‘the greatest refreshment to the spirits of man’) and Of Friendship (‘a crowd is not company, and faces are but a gallery of pictures, and talk but a tinkling cymbal where there is no love’).

The actor and director David Timson, whose other audiobook triumphs include the complete Sherlock Holmes stories and Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, romps energetically through this timely tribute.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

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