Analysis of Authors

1. Introduction

De Rerum Natura is an antique but quite famous poem by the Roman philosopher Lucretius from the 1st century B.C. As the title already suggests, the poem deals with “The Nature of Things”. It is thought to have played an important part in the revolutionary development which led to our modern society as we know it today.  Ever since it was rediscovered around 600 years ago, it had and probably still has a big influence on other authors who are reusing parts of Lucretius’ poems in their own quotes (cf. Especially the female authors who quoted De Rerum Natura in their works but also those authors who have used it during times of religious turmoil are of interest. This project focuses on the analysis of prior mentioned author groups. During the analysis, the focus will lie on the following three research questions:

  1. How are the authors who quoted De Rerum Natura represented demographically based on ESTC data?
  2. How is female authorship represented? Which quotes were used by both male and female authors? 
  3. How was De Rerum Natura used in a late 17th century religious context?

In order to scrutinise the research questions above, it is necessary to explain the used data as a first step in the following second chapter. To do so, the data sources as well as tools plus the data processing will be demonstrated in a more detailed way. The third chapter then focuses on the demographic aspect of the author analysis. In its subchapters, special attention will be paid to the decade they published in, the author’s gender, the countries where they published their works and the language they used. After this, the next chapter deals with female authorship. The fourth chapter is subdivided into the introduction of the female authors Elizabeth Hamilton, Elizabeth Rowe and Elizabeth Hervey; other authors will be discussed slightly too. In chapter five, the work “Melissa and Marcia” by the mentioned female author Elizabeth Hervey will be examined more closely. Moving on to the last main chapter, chapter six contains the analysis of the use of Lucretius’ poem De Rerum Natura in a religiously oriented context. To achieve that, the subchapters look at the general contextualisation of the chosen time period, the general author analysis and finally the introduction of the two late 17th century authors John Potter and Patrick Hume. Last but not least, the conclusion summarizes all important findings on the one hand, but also discusses problems or possible further research on the other hand. Achievements are also mentioned in the last part of this project report. 

2. Data

In this section, we present used data and processing tools. An overview of processing methods is given in the second subchapter.

2.1 Data Sources and tools

In this work is used meta data which contains the bibliographical information that share text with Titi Lucretii Cari de Rerum natura libri sex (LUCT). Bibliographical information consists of 64 columns describing a publication that reuses text from LUCT. Data columns in the metadata file are for instance publication year, publication place, title of the book and name of the author and physical dimensions of a book. Meta data was given as a single csv file, having over 16 000 rows of data. Titles in the data were published between 1546 and 1800.

Metadata is linked to the quoted texts. Reuse text files contain quoted texts of the reuse texts and the original source texts, and their publication information like publication year and author. Locations of the texts are given in the original and quoting books. Reused text file totally includes 29 data columns. Reused text data was given as 15 different csv file, which totally consist of almost 200 000 data rows. Quoted texts are extracted from ECCO (Eighteenth Century Collections Online) and Early English Books Online (EEBO). Bibliographical information of the metadata file is provided by ESTC (English Short Title Catalogue).

All data treatment in this work was done with Python programming language. Pandas was the most important package from Python Libraries used in this work. Data frame is a key component of Pandas. It is a table like component that enables easy grouping and filtering of data. Data frames can be easily joined to other data frames via indices. Visualisations were also done with Python. Python interface Pyplot Matplotlib package was used for plotting in the work. 

2.2 Data processing

Data was retrieved from the two sources. Metadata file was a single csv file. Reused texts consisted of 15 different csv files. Both data sources were read into Pandas data frames in Python. All 15 reused text files were combined into the same data frame. These two data frames were joined together via indices. Every metadata row has an index that is unique for the specific publication. Reused text data uses the same indices for the same publications. With these indices it is possible to find corresponding rows from the two sources and combine them. Result of the joining is one data frame that includes all columns from both sources. Python Pandas package offers tools for joining dataframes in practice.

After joining, it can be seen what are the quotes that one publication has used. Typically, quotation texts from one book were chopped into short chunks, and every single quotation chunk has a separate row in the reused text file, so one metadata row was joined to several quotes. The combined data then includes many similar rows from the metadata, which have been joined to different parts from reused text data frame.

Essential data processing in this work was different filtering and grouping of the data. In the simplest form filtering means that only data rows which have wanted value in the column are selected. For instance, metadata data can be filtered so that it contains only publications from specific years.

Grouping means that data is gathered into the similar groups based on one or many column values and some aggregation function is processed for the wanted variable column of the group. Aggregation functions are for instance count, sum, or the maximum value over the desired data column of the group. A typical grouping in the context of this work, could be the count of different authors over publication years. This example grouping produces a two-column list, where one column presents different publication years (group) and another column presents a distinct count of authors, i.e. how many distinct authors has published in that year.

The most challenging part in data processing was handling the quotes. Same quotes appeared several times in the data, thus it was needed to filter duplicates out. Quote location indices that reveal starting and ending point of reused text in the secondary title was used to identify quoted text, and with these indices it was possible to filter out overlapping quote chunks.  

In the one data task of the work, it was needed to examine where else in the data one quote was used. This cannot be done via text location indices of secondary books, because quote locations in the secondary titles vary. Same text may be quoted from many primary sources; thus, it was nor reasonable to use primary text locations in the search. Text search was implemented by dividing the original quote text into several chunks (trigger texts) of three sequential words. And all quotes that include at least one of the trigger text chunks were searched from data. This method produced the desired result, all findings referred to the same quote. Several trigger texts were needed in the search since quote texts were not exactly equal in all secondary quotes in the data. For the same reason, the length of a trigger text chunk was set to be three. Probability, that the trigger text and the search have a different writing style rises, when too long trigger texts are used in the search.  On the other hand, too short trigger texts (one or two words) would probably produce many irrelevant results in the search. All quotes referred to the same primary source, so in this search it could have been possible to use quote text indices of the primary book, instead of the trigger text method.

One part of quote text processing was a careful manual examination. Many of the quoted texts revealed to be irrelevant, and without manual checking, pure numerical results from the data can be misleading. The main reasons for irrelevant quotes may be failings in the digitization process when data has been originally created. Some of the secondary texts were originally written in non-Latin alphabets, which caused a mess in the quote data because these texts were not properly digitised.

3. Demographic analysis

The primary task of the authors’ analysis was to distinguish the demographic variety represented in the provided data source. We discuss the demographic representation by decade, gender, country, and language in chapter three.

 3.1 Publication decades

Publications in the data represent three periods: the late 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Very few titles date back to the mid 16th century. There were less than 50 publications during the years 1540 to 1640. Starting from 1650, we see a distinct spike of titles and the highest number of authors mentioned for the first time in the data (Picture 1). Overall, the majority of authors represented in the data set were published during the 18th century. The top three publication decades are the 1750s, 70s and 90s. 

Picture 1. Number of authors vs Decade

3.2 Gender

Next, we categorized the authors by their gender. In the data, there are three “gender” categories: male, female, unknown and corporate. 

Obviously, the representation is dominated by male authors. The majority of the writers during the 17-18th centuries were males or possibly females who wrote under male or gender-ambiguous pseudonyms. Since the publication circles were male-dominated, female writers wanted to use the power of anonymity to publish their works without prejudice and reach a wider readership (Raven, 2003).

Only male and unknown authors are represented in the late 16th century. Starting from the early 17th century, there were authors published through corporate publishers. 

In the middle of the 17th century, we noticed a slight spike in the unknown author category. The next bigger spike is during the early 18th century, and the biggest number of unknown gender authors were published during the late 18th century (Picture 2). 

By separating the unknown category under gender into the separate Excel file, we could see that there are 66 authors categorized as unknown. Since the sample is small, we were able to investigate the types of names that fell under this category:

    1.   Clearly male names: several male names are represented in the list of authors (e.g., Jakob Masen, Robertus Hingeston). There can be few reasons why male names were not categorized under male gender – biographical controversy, possibility of pseudonym usage, mistake in digitization. 
    2.     Initials: it is not possible to find out the gender of the author, unless there is biographical evidence (e.g., J.B., A.B., W.W.).
    3.     Pseudonyms: several authors used pseudonyms (e.g., Divine, Person of quality, Reader).
    4.     Clearly female names: one name stood out as female – Felicité de Biron. By doing quick research using search engine, we confirmed that it is possible the author is female, although more profound biographical research is needed to prove this finding.
    5.     Other names: many names were hard to judge as they were quite international or unfamiliar to the authors of this project. We did not investigate further on this category due to the time limitations of this project. 

Picture 2. Gender distribution

As we decided to investigate female authorship represented in the data closely as a part of our research (chapter 4), we were very curious about the number of female authors in the assigned data set. Predictably, the number of female authors who wrote during the 17th and 18th centuries is very low. First publications by female authors appear in the mid-17th century. Next ones appear during the early 18th century, and the majority of female authors published in the late 18th century (Picture 3).

By separating authors under the female gender category into a separate Excel file, we were left with a list of 11 female authors. After studying the list, we found out that two names out of the list were clearly male (authors’ biographies found using search engine) and one used a pseudonym (Young Lady). 

Picture 3. All authors vs female authors

3.3 Publication countries

The diverse representation of publication countries in the data was surprising while clearly dominated by England. On the visualization plot (Picture 4), we can see the red line which represents England as a publication country. A significant spike of publications in England is noticeable in the middle of the 17th century, followed by a dip through the late 17th century. At the beginning of the 18th century, publications in England were on the rise again with few major spikes during the 1740s, 70s and 90s.

In the 17th century, other publication countries were represented but at a very low percentage. Starting from the beginning of the 18th century, countries like Scotland, France and Ireland entered the publication scene. We can see a large spike of publications in Scotland during the mid-18th century (green line) and Ireland (turquoise line). At the end of the 18th century authors also published in the USA, Germany, and Switzerland. Data processing also distinguished such publication countries as Italy (late 16th century), Netherlands and Belgium (early 17th century), and Malta.

Picture 4. Publication countries

 3.4. Publication languages

The language representation in the data set was dominated by three languages: English (top language used), Latin (second most commonly used) and French (third most commonly used).

From the late 16th till the end of the 17th century, authors published only in English and Latin. French publications began at the beginning of the 18th century and gained popularity during the mid and late 18th century, with a significant spice during the 70s. Other languages entered the scene during the 18th century, such as Italian and German. Data processing also distinguished such languages as Welsh, Ancient Greek, and Portuguese, but we cannot see them on the visualisation plot (Picture 5).

Picture 5. Publication languages

 4. Female authorship

In chapter four, we take a close look at the female authors that quoted De Rerum Natura in their works. Due to the small size of the extracted data sample, we were able to investigate the data precisely and found out a few interesting points to complete our research.

The representation of female authors in the given data set is very sparse. Data showed 11 female authors after processing, and by studying the list we found out that two out of the list were male authors (Eugene Mac-Swiny and Louis Moréri) and one used a pseudonym. One more female name was found under the unknown category. Six out of nine female authors published in the 18th century, all of them published in London, England and all published in English except one author who published in Latin.

Female authors who quoted De Rerum Natura the most according to the data were Elizabeth Hamilton, Elizabeth Rowe and Elizabeth Hervey.

4.1  Elizabeth Hamilton 

Data showed that Elizabeth Hamilton had 161 quotations of De Rerum Natura in her title. The number of quotations looked promising, and Elizabeth Hamilton was our first prospect for further research. However, after a manual examination of the quotes, we found out that all of them are irrelevant – they consisted of “in non-Latin alphabet” remarks. 

Moreover, only one title of Elizabeth Hamilton was represented in the data and the processing showed that the quotes were overlapping – overall visualization looked messy (Pictures 6 & 7). After seeing the visualization, we decided to look at the actual quotes and were not surprised that the quotes were irrelevant text.

Hamilton’s title represented in the data is “To the Parliament of the Common-wealth of England, the humble petition of Elizabeth Dutchesse (dowager) of Hamilton, and her foure orphan daughters”, which is a very short petition, and the appearance of any Latin quotations in the petition is very unlikely.

Picture 6. Elizabeth Hamilton: quote location in the primary text. Double quotes are not removed.

Picture 7. Elizabeth Hamilton: quote location in the secondary text. Double quotes are not removed.

4.2  Elizabeth Rowe 

According to data, Elizabeth Rowe had two editions of her work “Devout exercises of the heart”: dated 1760 and 1761. There was one quotation in the year 1760 edition and two quotations in the year 1761. The same quote repeats in both editions, and another one appears in the second edition.

Unfortunately, after close inspection of the quotes, we again found out that they were not relevant and were just publication remarks. We did not check the actual text of “Devout exercises”, but such words from the “quotes” as volumes, import, buy, vend, utter, distribute, copies, consent, etc. clearly indicate that the text in place is a remark. Same publication remarks were used in a primary source of John Evelyn.  We predict that this mistake could be repeated throughout the dataset.

4.3 Elizabeth Hervey

The third female author who quoted De Rerum Natura the most was Elizabeth Hervey with two quotes in her novel “Melissa and Marcia”. One original edition of her novel from 1788 is represented in the data. After the assessment of the quotes, finally, we have got a relevant entry. We will discuss Hervey’s novel and the quotes she used in the fifth chapter.

4.4  Other authors

Other six female authors have each quoted De Rerum Natura once. They are Young lady with her “The ring: a novel in a series of letters” published in 1784; Elizabeth Carter with “Twelve poems translated into French” published in 1796; Jane Brereton with “The fifth ode of the fourth book of Horace” published in 1716; Anne de La Tour d’Auvergne, Vicomtesse de Turenne with “Certain letters, evidencing the Kings stedfastness in the Protestant religion” published in 1660; Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle with “De vita…” published in 1668; Charlotte Turner Smith with “A narrative of the loss of the Catharine, Venus…” published in 1796; and Felicité de Biron with “The adventures and amours of the Marquis de Noailles” published in 1746.

By closely investigating the quotation texts, we figured out that five of the quotes look relevant and one is clearly irrelevant.

5. Elizabeth Hervey “Melissa and Marcia”

In chapter five, we get to know more about Elizabeth Hervey and her works. We investigate whether other authors from the given data have used the same De Rerum Natura Quotes and if there are any connections between the authors.

5.1  Hervey and her novels

Elizabeth Hervey was the author of six novels. All of them were published anonymously between 1788 and 1815. 

The biographical evidence of Hervey is restricted. The research by the name turned out to be quite impossible, as there were other more prominent 18th century figures under the same name.

Something interesting that we have found out from previous research materials of Hervey’s novels is that she started writing because of a bad financial situation – her husband was gambling. Also, it is possible that Hervey lived some time in France since her husband died there (Chawton House Library). 

The novel “Melissa and Marcia, or the Sisters” where quotes appear, was Hervey’s first novel published in 1788. It has two volumes, and the number of editions is unknown. The novel has an insider’s knowledge of France – this again shows that Hervey has probably lived in France for some time.

5.2  De Rerum Natura quotations in “Melissa and Marcia”

 The data have shown that Hervey used two quotes from the primary source. After looking at the quotes we could see that they are identical – Hervey just used the same quote twice in her novel. The quote corresponds well to the primary text of John Evelyn and the distance between the quotes is 1200 characters (Picture 8).

Picture 8. Hervey’s quote location in “Melissa and Marcia”

 5.3  Hervey’s quote in other titles

We were curious if other authors represented in the data have used the same quote in their texts. To find the titles, first we selected two most robust sentences from the original text of John Evelyn:

“Di so avi licor gli orli del vaso:

Succhi amari ingannato intanto ei beve”

Then, we split sentences into seven chunks of three sequential words: avi licor gli; licor gli orli; orli del vaso; Succhi amari ingannato; amari ingannato intanto; ingannato intanto ei;  intanto ei beve. The logic behind the splitting into three-word chunks is explained in the sub-chapter 2.2 “Data processing”.

By processing these chunks, the data showed us 19 titles (including Hervey’s). After excluding Hervey’s novel and different editions of other works, we got the list of 9 different titles and 7 different authors. As we can see from the plot (picture 9), one author used the quote before the original text was published. So, the author used some other source for the quotation. All other texts are from the 18th century. 

This quote was first used by the author who wrote under the pseudonym “Well-wisher to his King and country”. Also, the quote was used by famous authors like Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.


Picture 9. Hervey’s quote in other titles

By studying the list of titles, we could see the variety of genres the quote was used in. It was used both in fiction and poems, as well as letters. The representation of languages was also diverse – quote was used in English, French, Italian and Latin texts. Titles represent a variety of themes such as love, religion, etiquette and conduct of life.

It stood out that Jean-Jacques Rousseau used this quote in two of his titles. He used quotes in his well-known novel “Julie, the new Heloise” and data also showed a preface of Eloise as a separate title. We are curious if Rousseau’s novel had an influence on Hervey’s “Melissa and Marcia”. We predict the possibility that she used Julie as an original source for the De Rerum Natura quotation.

6. The use of De Rerum Natura in a religious context

The last big part of the analysis of authors who quoted some parts of Lucretius’ poem De Rerum Natura is that in the religious context. In the following three subchapters, the analysis will be broken down into the contextualisation, the closer examination of the relevant data in general and finally a discussion of two of the authors who quoted De Rerum Natura the most in a twenty-year-period of the late 17th century.

6.1. Religious context

The 17th century was an eventful and interesting period in England with respect to all the religious developments going on in this period. During that time, religion was highly important and it influenced people’s lives significantly in all aspects. At the beginning of the century, everybody had to be part of the Church of England as prescribed by the law. Any other religious orientation was not accepted at all in contemporary society. A bit later in the 17th century, the formation of independent churches began slowly. Especially after the execution of Charles I in 1649 following the end of the civil war in 1646, their number rose significantly. Then, during the interregnum from 1649 to 1660, there was no king in England. This time period was characterised by the parliament trying to promote Anglicanism again in order for it to go back to being the religion of the state. After the death of Charles II in 1885, his successor James II practiced Catholicism openly. While he reigned, he even made sure that every law against those who were not Anglican was abolished. Following his deduction only 3 years later, the so-called “Bill of Rights” came into existence in the year 1689. The respective law prohibited all the Catholics from becoming the Queen or King of England; additionally, those who reigned could not marry someone who was Catholic (cf. 

As all these developments in the 17th century legitimize the hypothesis that there could be interesting findings with regard to Lucretius’ DRN, it would make sense to look especially at the authors who published in the later part of the century. As many of the developments had already happened by then or were happening during that time, the authors could have processed them in their works in combination with the respective poem. In the following two subchapters, the period between the years 1680 and 1698 will be taken into closer examination.

6.2. The authors of the late 17th century

After having justified the late 17th century as the period of closer examination, the first step was to look at the relevant authors from the given metadata. The following diagram shows the count of distinct authors in relation to the year they have published in. 

Picture 10. Numbers of Authors who quoted DRN dependent on the year.

Surprisingly, the timeline above shows that in the late 17th century, there were fewer authors who reused De Rerum Natura than around the year 1660 or after the end of the 17th century in general. Picture 10 shows that especially in the year 1689, only a really low number of relevant authors got their works printed in comparison to the surrounding years. Nevertheless, the bottom part of the diagram also reveals that there was an increase of authors who published after the year 1690.

After closer examination of the given metadata, it can be said that at first glance, there were 183 relevant authors in total. Since some of them were listed several times in the file, 47 of the entries had to be summarised leaving the number to be 136 authors. During the further analysis of the respective birth- as well as death years of each listed writer, a further number of 28 authors had to be removed from the table. This means that in total, there were only 108 authors left who were even alive in the late 17th century, making them relevant for this analysis. The hypothesis for the further scrutiny was that the authors who quoted DRN in the late 17th century would have mainly been Anglican due to what was happening historically in England.

As the religious orientation could not clearly be identified from the metadata, each relevant author had to be looked up manually. For this purpose, the online database Oxford Dictionary of National Bibliography was used. After examination of all 108 authors, the religious orientation of 14 could not be identified, as it was not always immediately visible or not easy to find. To some of them, religion clearly was not the centre of their life. Still, the following self-created pie chart shows the results for all the remaining 94 authors.

Picture 11. The Religious Orientation of the Authors from the Late 17th Century.

It becomes clear at first sight that 51,1%, so a little bit more than half, of the relevant authors, could be clearly identified as Anglican according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Bibliography. Only 20,2% of the authors were Catholics, which is clearly a minority compared to the Anglican group. As the group of Anti-Catholics and the people who were following a purely Protestant religious orientation are also clearly not-Catholic, they were added as their own two categories in different shades of blue. Last but not least, the “other” group consisted, as the name suggested, of different religious orientations or branches such as Puritans, Jacobite or members of various sects. As there were never many people following the same orientation, it was not really worth it to give them their own category; this way, it also highlights the findings that were more important for the analysis. The said category also included those authors who identified themselves as Christians without further differentiation between the branches such as Anglican or Catholic. Even though there were overall fewer Anglican authors than previously anticipated, the hypothesis can still be verified: mainly Anglicans quoted Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura in the later part of the 17th century. Additionally, further analysis of the metadata revealed that the general themes were often religiously connotated ones such as theology, Christianity, themes that were directly related to the Church itself, freedom of religion or reformation. If the themes were not religious, they were often related to science or philosophy in one way or another. Closer observation of all the works’ titles also showed that in many instances, they already had religious references there, as can be seen in the three following examples:

(1)  Becconsall, Thomas (1698). The grounds and foundation of natural religion. [Anglican]

(2)  Kingston, Richard (1699). Tyranny detected; and the late revolution justify’d, by the law of God, the law of nature, and the practice of all nations. [anti-Catholic]

(3)  Milner, John (1694). A defence of Arch-bishop Usher against Dr Cary and Dr Isaac Vossius. [Catholic]

Concluding the general analysis of the authors who published in the late 17th century, it can be said that religion was definitely an important topic for many of them, especially in combination with the poem De Rerum Natura. This could be explained by the assumption that Lucretius himself was a “protestant against religious and ethical conditions in Rome” (Depue Hazsits), which means that he might have been anti-Catholic himself. As most of the analysed authors seemed to be Anglican or at least not openly Catholic, this was probably one of the reasons why they made use of Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura. Depue Hazsits’ statement also hints at an explanation for the increase of texts after 1689, as this was the year the Catholics were officially banned from becoming the King or Queen of England through the previously mentioned Bill of Rights.

6.3. Potter & Hume

After having analysed the relevant authors in more general terms, it is now time to go into a deeper examination of two of them. The author who quoted De Rerum Natura by far the most is John Potter in his work “The antiquities of Greece”.

Picture 12. Potter’s Quote Locations in “The antiquities of Greece”.  Double quotes removed.

At first, his work contained around 6500 quotes consisting of approximately 89000 characters. After the cleaning process, which deleted for example all the double quotes, only roughly 3000 quotes were left in total. With regard to the author John Potter himself, it can be stated that he was a member of the Church of England and, therefore, followed the Anglican religious orientation. Furthermore, he was the Archbishop of Canterbury. As the title of his work already hints at, his text is about Greece and not necessarily religion. There were also still some quotes that overlapped each other from the beginning to the end. Additionally, many of the quotes that were found in “The antiquities of Greece” contained “< in non-Latin alphabet >”. If there were actual quotes in the given data, they were usually either in Latin or just a few contextless English words that were not really meaningful or relevant at all. As there were many useless quotes, the following step was to find the next person with usable quotes that were not rubbish.

Picture 13. Hume’s Quote Locations in “Annotations on Milton’s Paradise Lost”.

The Protestant Patrick Hume, who was number 15 in the ranking of authors from the late 17th century who quoted DRN the most, fulfilled this criterion. In his work “Annotations on Milton’s Paradise Lost”, he had a total of 4389 characters of quotes from Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura. His quotes were definitely longer and more useful, as they did not all consist of “< in non-Latin alphabet >” like it was mainly the case for Potter. Nevertheless, they were all written in Latin again. Since there was a language barrier, unfortunately, they could not be analysed with regard to their content. Still, the title already hints to a religious context of the respective text. John Milton’s Paradise Lost deals with the rejection of God’s Laws and, thus, definitely has religion as its theme. Concluding, it can be stated that Lucretius was frequently quoted by authors who published between the years 1680 and 1699. His poem was especially reused in the context of religion.

7. Conclusions

All in all, it can be concluded that various author groups have made use of Lucretius’ poem De Rerum Natura in different ways. During the project, the data processing was technically straightforward and it was mostly done with existing data processing tools of the Python programming language. The most challenging part in the data processing was to get familiar with the data and manage it with unstable data values. The quote text digitization process was probably originally failed with some of the texts, and it caused failed or unclear quote texts after digitalisation. It was essential in the data work to recheck manually at times what numeric values included. Pure numeric analysis for instance showed that one author may have a lot of quotes, but the manual rechecking of the quotes exposes those quotes did not actually include any sensible text or many of the quotes referred to the same text.

To conclude the demographic aspect of authors, its distribution was obvious: the majority was male and published in English in London. However, this allowed us to study the small sample of female authors closely. After all, we were able to find some interesting connections between authors by just studying one quote. With regard to the religious analysis, it can be summarized that religion was definitely a popular theme among authors who quoted De Rerum Natura in their works in the late 17th century, which was probably due to the importance of the topic during that time. A religious component could already be seen in many of the titles. Also, mainly authors who had an Anglican religious orientation quoted the respective poem.

Problems that occurred were, for example, that there was a lot of irrelevant data: based on our sample of nine female authors, one-third of the data was irrelevant. Also, it took a lot of time to find an interesting sub-question. In addition to that, finding out the religion of all authors manually took up a lot of time, especially when the orientation was not visible immediately for some of them. There were also many aspects to look into the further we advanced in the analysis; it was a bit hard sometimes to concentrate on only some. For this reason, further research would be possible in the following aspects: Did Elizabeth Hervey use Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s “Julie, the New Heloise” as a primary source for De Rerum Natura quotation? The investigation of other female authors’ quotes one by one and finding connections with the world of male authors could also be interesting. Additionally, other influences than Lucretius’ poem in the late 17th century could lead to further findings explaining the distribution of the authors’ religious orientation. It might also be helpful to find out why there were fewer Anglican authors than expected

Generally speaking, the team was quite happy with the choice of the topic – even though we chose it quite randomly. We have lost one team member in the middle of the project but were able to continue working without any disruptions. It was possible to work independently as well – everyone had their own responsibility while working as a team. And finally, the communication in the group was smooth which enabled a successful result. During the project, we communicated via Slack, WhatsApp, Zoom and used Google Drive frequently. 

8. References

Chawton House Library. Biography of Elizabeth Hervey. (accessed 20.11.2021)

Depue Hadzsits, G. (1918). ‘Lucretius as a Student of Roman Religion.’, in: Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association. Vol.49, p. 145-160.

James Raven, ‘The Anonymous Novel in Britain and Ireland, 1750–1830’, in Robert J. Griffin (ed.) Faces of Anonymity: Anonymous and Pseudonymous Publication from the Sixteenth to the Twentieth Century (New York: Palgrave, 2003)

Lambert, T. (2021). A History of Religion in the 17th Century.  (last accessed 15.11.2021)

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. (last accessed 09.12.2021)

Schulte von Drach, M. C. (2017). 600 Jahre Wiederentdeckung von “De rerum natura”. Feiert Lukrez statt Luther.