Anke Timmermann

Dr. Anke Timmermann

Dr. Anke Timmermann

Anke Timmermann is a historian of medieval and early modern science and bibliographer. Her research focuses on the history of alchemy and medicine discovered through the history of manuscripts: their production, reception, dissemination, alteration, early storage in historical libraries and institutions, and later uses for the communication of knowledge.

Her recent and current projects explore the genre of alchemical poetry, the medium of historical letters, the material and codicological connections between alchemy and medicine, and the non-verbal (pictorial) terminology of alchemy. Previous projects investigated Victorian occult sciences and historiographical aspects of the history and philosophy of science.

A truly interdisciplinary scholar Dr. Timmermann studied English language and literature, philosophy, classical languages and the history of science. She has produced critical editions (in print and digital form), bibliographical material and case studies for academic audiences, as well as exhibitions and new media for the wider public.

In the academic year of 2013/14 Dr Timmermann will be expanding her research and curatorial activities previously pursued at the Chemical Heritage Foundation, within the AHRC Letters of Bess of Hardwick Project, at the Medical University of Vienna and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science as Munby Fellow in Bibliography at Cambridge University Library.



Alchemical Poetry



  • ‘Ungereimtes um Sol und Luna: Die Prosarezepte des Cod. 3001 der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek’, in Laura Balbiani and Kathrin Pfister, eds., Festschrift für Joachim Telle (Heidelberg: Mattes-Verlag, 2014) (forthcoming).
  • ‘Scientific and Encyclopaedic Verse’ in A.S.G. Edwards and Julia Boffey, eds., Companion to Fifteenth-Century English Poetry (Boydell and Brewer, 2013), 199-211.
  • ‘New perspectives on Gareth W. Dunleavy’s article on “The Chaucer Ascription in TCD MS D.28”, Ambix, 13 (1965)’; Ambix 53 (2006), 161-165.
  • ‘MS. Mellon 43: An alchemical poem identified’, Marginalia 1 (2005)

Manuscripts, history of the book, editions

Digital Edition


  • ‘Introduction’ in A.S.G. Edwards, ed., Incunabula: The Printing Revolution in Europe 1455-1500 – Science (Primary Source Microfilm, units 41-44) (Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale; British Library, 2010), 13-20.
  • ‘Doctor’s Order: An Early Modern Doctor’s Alchemical Notebooks’, Early Science and Medicine 13 (2008), 25-52.
  • ‘A sixteenth-century manuscript and the hidden legacy of its readership: Trinity College Cambridge MS. R.14.56’ in Wiener Gespräche zur Sozialgeschichte der Medizin: Wissensaustausch in der Medizin des 15.-18. Jahrhunderts (Wien: Verlagshaus der Ärzte, 2006), 153-178.

Alchemy and medicine


  • ‘Prescriptions of alchemy: Austrian medical doctors and their alchemical manuscripts’, in B. Moran, M. Walton, K. H. Parshall, eds., Bridging Traditions: Alchemy, Chemistry, and Paracelsian Practices in the Early Modern Era: Essays in Honor of Allen G. Debus (Kirksville: Truman State University Press) (forthcoming).
  • ‘Die Grenzen der Wissenschaft: Medico-alchemische Schriften im Wien des 15. und 16. Jahrhunderts als historiographische Herausforderung’, in Thomas Maisel and Meta Niederkorn-Bruck, eds., Ars – Artisten – Wissenschaft: Publikation der Vorträge der Tagung 15.-16. Dezember 2011 (Vienna, 2014) (forthcoming).

Varia (Articles)

  • (with N. Jardine and D. Banham, eds.) The Body as Instrument (Cambridge: Whipple Museum, 2006).
  • (with N. Kaoukji) ‘Robert Fludd’s theory of man as a monochord’, in A. Timmermann, N. Jardine and D. Banham, eds., The Body as Instrument (Cambridge: Whipple Museum, 2006), 27-37.
  • ‘“Pictures passing before the mind’s eye”: the Tarot, the Order of the Golden Dawn, and William Butler Yeats’s Poetry’, Societas Magica Newsletter 15 (2006), 1-8.

Selected Book Reviews

  • Review of P. J. Grund, Misticall Wordes and Names Infinite: An Edition and Study of Humfrey Lock’s Treatise on Alchemy in British Journal for the History of Science 45 (2012), 456-457.
  • Review of C. Priesner, Geschichte der Alchemie in Ambix 59 (2012), 65-66.
  • Review of A. Weeks, Paracelsus (Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, 1493-1541): Essential Theoretical Writings in Ambix 58 (2011), 172.
  • Review of B. Láng, Unlocked Books: Manuscripts of Learned Magic in the Medieval Libraries of Central Europe in Ambix 57 (2010), 235.
  • Essay Review of E. Jajdelska, Silent Reading and the Birth of the Narrator and K. Sharpe and S. N. Zwicker, eds., Writing Lives: Biography and Textuality, Identity and Representation in Early Modern England in The Seventeenth Century (2009), 380-383.
  • Review of P. H. Smith and B. Schmidt, eds., Making Knowledge in Early Modern Europe: Practices, Objects, and Texts, 1400-1800 in Technology and Culture 50 (July 2009), 687-688.
  • Review of T. Nummedal, Alchemy and Authority in the Holy Roman Empire in Chemical Heritage 26 (Fall 2008), 45.
  • Review of L. M. Principe, ed., Chymists and Chymistry: Studies in the History of Alchemy and Early Modern Chemistry in Ambix 55 (2008), 302-303.
  • Review of A. G. Debus, The Chemical Promise: Experiment and Mysticism in the Chemical Philosophy, 1550–1800 in British Journal for the History of Science 41 (2008), 134-135.
  • Review of P. Binski and S. Panayotova, eds., The Cambridge Illuminations: Ten Centuries of Book Production in the Medieval West in Marginalia 3 (2006).
  • Review of B. Mahlmann-Bauer, ed., Scientiae et artes: Die Vermittlung alten und neuen Wissens in Literatur, Kunst und Musik in Ambix 52 (2005), 292-293.


History of Science and Medicine, including historiography, since 2004
(University of Cambridge, Temple University/American Philosophical Society Philadelphia, Medical University of Vienna)

Neo-Latin (University of Vienna, 2012)

English language and literature since 2001 (University of Heidelberg, University of Glasgow)

Teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate level, including lectures, seminars and dissertation supervision since 2001

Educational training acquired at all abovementioned institutions since 2000.


  • ‘Unsealed: The Letters of Bess of Hardwick’ (curator)
    Exhibition created in collaboration with the National Trust; shown at Hardwick Hall (April – November 2011); at The National Archives, London (November 2012 – March 2013)
  • ‘Art and Alchemy’ (academic advisor)
    Exhibition curated by Dedo von Kerssenbrock-Krosigk/ Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf and Sven Dupré (research group ‘Art and Knowledge in Pre-Modern Europe’)/Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin (Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, April 2014)
  • ‘Vienna 1365: The Idea of a European University’ (academic advisor; article for exhibition publication) Exhibition curated by Heidrun Rosenberg, Andreas Fingernagel and Michael Schwarz (Vienna) in celebration of the University of Vienna’s 650th anniversary (Austrian National Library, 6 March – 3 May 2015)


  • ‘Zauberei oder Wissenschaft? Über Alchemie, Heilkunde und Wundersteine’, Ö1 Kinderuni
    [radio interview, aired 16 September 2012]
  • ‘Suchen nach dem Stein der Weisen’ Der Standard
    [interview conducted by K. Taschwer for a national newspaper, 9 August 2011]
  • Bess of Hardwick’s Voicemail
    [Podcasts for the AHRC Letters of Bess of Hardwick project; script, voice, recording, production, released April 2011]
  • MacAulay & Co, BBC Radio Scotland
    [Radio interview on historical letters and diaries, aired live on 25 March 2011]
  • Modern Marvels, ‘Lead’, History Channel, USA
    [TV documentary/ interview, first broadcast on 9 October 2008]
  • Distillations: Extracts from the Past, Present and Future of Chemistry, Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia, PA
    [Podcast series; scripts and voice talent for various episodes aired 2007-2010]
  • The Recipes Project Blog (guest posts):


In addition to academic presentations, exhibitions and media appearances, Anke Timmermann’s communication of her research includes outreach programmes for addressing the wider public and children, for example:

  • Bright Club (stand-up comedy) (Cambridge, 2013)
  • Dr. med. und das Elixir des Forschens: Die Geschichte der Alchemie an der Medizinischen Fakultät der Universität Wien Josephinumsseminar, Medical University of Vienna (2012)
  • Gesundheit im Reagenzglas: Begegnungen von Medizin und Alchemie. ‘Science Dabei’ Science Festival, Vienna (2011)
  • Harry Potters Alchemie. Kinderuni (‘The Children’s University’), Vienna (2011)

Curriculum Vitae

Current occupation

  • Munby Fellow, Cambridge University Library/ Darwin College, Cambridge
  • Affiliate Scholar, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Cambridge

Areas of specialization

  • History of Science
    - History of Alchemy
    - History of Medicine
  • Manuscript Studies/History of the Book
  • Historiography

Areas of competence

  • Late Medieval and Early Modern England and the Holy Roman Empire
  • Institutional History (Libraries and Universities)
  • Social History of Science, Texts and Objects
  • Digital Humanities and New Media
  • Historical Pragmatics (Middle English)
  • Philosophy of Science
  • Exhibition Curation


  • 2013-2014 Cambridge University Library/Darwin College Cambridge (UK)
    Munby Fellow in Bibliography
  • 2013 and 2014-16 Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (Berlin, Germany)
    Postdoctoral Fellow, group ‘Art and Knowledge in Pre-Modern Europe’
  • 2012 University of Vienna (Austria)
    Visiting lecturer, Classics Faculty
  • 2011-2013 Medical University of Vienna (Austria)
    Marie Curie Fellow/University lecturer, Collections and History of Medicine
  • 2010-2011 University of Glasgow (UK)
    AHRC Postdoctoral Research Associate, English Language Department
  • 2007-2009 Chemical Heritage Foundation (Philadelphia, PA, USA)
    Associate Director of the Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry
    Historian, Roy Eddleman Institute (-2008)


  • University of Cambridge
    Ph.D. in History of Science, 2007
  • University of Glasgow
    M.Phil. in English Language, 2003
  • University of Heidelberg
    M.A. in English Language and Literature, Philosophy, 2002
  • Trinity College Dublin
    Visiting Student in English, Ancient Greek, 1997-98


  • Experiments on Paper: Alchemical expression and illustration in early modern manuscripts, s. xv-xvi.
  • Illuminating Nature: Alchemical Illustrations in Cambridge Manuscripts
  • Experimental Imagery: An Investigation of Fifteenth-Century Alchemical Expression (Image, Symbol & Word)
  • Alchemical Manuscripts in Medical Vienna, 14th-17th Century
  • Letters of Bess of Hardwick Project (PI: Dr Alison Wiggins, Glasgow)
  • The Circulation and Reception of a Middle English Alchemical Poem: The Verses upon the Elixir and the Associated Corpus of Alchemica (PhD)
  • An Edition of the Medieval Alchemical Poem Verses upon the Elixir (MPhil)
  • Yeats and the Tarot (MA)

Grants and awards

  • Munby Fellowship in Bibliography (University Library, University of Cambridge, 2013-14)
  • Max Planck Institute for the History of Science Postdoctoral Fellowship (2013)
  • British Academy Neil Ker Memorial Fund Award (2013)
  • Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship (European Commission Funding) (2011-13)
  • AHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (2010-11)
  • Folger Shakespeare Library Fellowship (2010, declined)
  • Williamson Award for doctoral studies (2006-07)
  • Gates Cambridge Scholarship for doctoral studies (2003-06)
  • DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service)
  • graduate scholarship (2002-03)
  • DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) scholarship ‘Anglisten nach Großbritannien und Irland’ (1997-98)
  • Dr Sophie Bernthsen Prize (1999)
  • Author nomination for ‘The Science of Sleep’ (Distillations podcast episode) at the New York Festivals for Radio Programming & Promotion (2009)

Contact: anke [DOT] timmermann [AT] gabrielepossanner [DOT] eu