Comparing Networks of Biography

Six Degrees of Francis Bacon and John Aubrey’s Brief Lives

John R. Ladd | @johnrladd |

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“We may be able to hear, through him, the 17th century talking to and about itself.”

Kate Bennett, ed. Brief Lives (2016)

Aubrey’s Accounts

  • John Denham was “rooked by gamesters”
  • In young adulthood, Edmund Waller “grew (upon I know not what occasion) mad”
  • Samuel Butler’s “painted well: and made it (sometime) his profession”

Denham & Wither

“John Denham went to the King and desired his Majestie not to hang him [Wither], for that whilest George Withers lived, he should not be the worst Poet in England.” (Aubrey 349)

Six Degrees of Francis Bacon

Six Degrees of Francis Bacon

Communities vs. Roles

Community Detection

Role Detection

Community Detection

Role Detection



Who’s in Role 3?

  • Lucy Hutchinson
  • Margaret Cavendish
  • Aphra Behn
  • John Milton
  • John Locke
  • Robert Hooke
  • Isaac Newton
  • Katherine Jones
  • and John Aubrey