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Lilly's autobiography, published towards the end of his life in , at the request of his patron Elias Ashmole , gives candid accounts of the political events of his era, and biographical details of contemporaries that are unavailable elsewhere.

Lilly was a controversial character who was both aided and abetted by powerful friends and enemies. He attracted the attention of many members of Parliament , through the support of Sir Bulstrode Whitelocke , Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England , to whom he dedicated his Christian Astrology , [10] but also accused Members of Parliament of engineering charges against him in Lilly was born on 1 May in the small village of Diseworth , Leicestershire; [5] the thatched cottage his family lived in still stands near the village church.

Lilly was fortunate in receiving a classical education at the Grammar school of Ashby-de-la-Zouch , under John Brinsley , one of the finest teachers of his time.

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Brinsley was strict in discipline but advocated encouragement and praise, and by the time Lilly left the school in , he was excellently educated and excelled at Latin. This was to serve him well in his later astrological studies, since almost all astrological textbooks were written in Latin at that time. Lilly's hopes of attending Cambridge University were dashed by his father's increasing poverty. A lesser opportunity came through his father's attorney, who recognised Lilly's level of education and recommended him to Gilbert Wright, Master of the Salters' Company and resident of the Strand in London but formerly of Market Bosworth , Leicestershire.

Wright was looking for a literate youth to act as his secretary and general servant, and at that time Lilly's father then in prison for debt was very happy to be rid of him, considering that since his son was no good around the farm, he was "good for nothing". Lilly received a warm welcome from Gilbert Wright, and worked as his servant until Wright's death in Within months of Wright's death, the newly widowed Ellen made it clear that, having married twice for money, she was now looking to marry someone who would be loving and look after her, regardless of her suitor's status.

Lilly took the "audacious" step of proposing himself, and despite her initial protestations that at 25 years of age Lilly was too young, they married in September of that year, keeping their marriage secret from her friends and family for two years. Lilly describes a contented marriage with Ellen, which continued for six years. The comfortable lifestyle and fortune that Lilly inherited from Ellen, gave him leisure time to frequent sermons and lectures in London society.

Lilly, William (DNB00)

The years and were devoted to a careful revision of all his previous reading, and in particular, having lighted on Valentine Naibod 's Commentary on Alcabitius , he "seriously studied him and found him to be the profoundest author he ever met with. Lilly's most comprehensive book was published in and was entitled Christian Astrology.


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  • WILLIAM LILLY (1602-1681) English astrologer?
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It is so large that it came in three separate volumes in modern times, and it remains popular even today and has never gone totally out-of-print. It is considered one of the classic texts for the study of traditional astrology from the Middle Ages , in particular horary astrology , which is mainly concerned with predicting future events or investigating unknown elements of current affairs, based on an astrological chart cast for the time a particular question is asked of the astrologer.

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Worked examples of horary charts are found in Volume 2 of Christian Astrology. He then began to issue his prophetical almanacs and other works, which met with serious attention from some of the most prominent members of the Long Parliament. Even John Selden seems to have acknowledged him, and probably the chief difference between him and the mass of the community at the time was that, while others believed in the general truth of astrology, he ventured to specify the future events to which he referred.

In , Lilly wrote a preface to Sir Christopher Heydon 's An Astrological Discourse with Mathematical Demonstrations , a defence of astrology written about which was first published posthumously, largely at the expense of Elias Ashmole. After the Restoration he very quickly fell into disrepute. His sympathy with the parliament, which his predictions had generally shown, was not calculated to bring him into royal favour.

He came under the lash of Samuel Butler , who, making allowance for some satiric exaggeration, has given in the character of Hudibras ' Sidrophel a probably not very incorrect picture of the man; and, having by this time amassed a tolerable fortune, he bought a small estate at Hersham in Surrey , to which he retired, and where he diverted the exercise of his peculiar talents to the practice of medicine.


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  • Christian Astrology by William Lilly.
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He died in It is a great mix of facts and fiction, and is gripping from the very start. It follows the story of young Tom, who meets renowned Astrologer William Lilly who he later on becomes apprenticed to. A tragic tale of love and loss, Tom has to push himself through some very tough times. Taken from an interview with Julian by Jessica Adams. William Lilly was the first British astrologer to properly translate and research the work of the classical astrologers such as Ptolemy, Marcus Manilius and Dorotheus of Sidon and then formulate his own system.

In he began teaching astrology and set himself up as a professional astrologer from his Corner house in Strand Lane, very near to Temple tube. William Lilly is the only astrologer in London to have a green plaque set up in his honour. Mary-Le-Strand church.

Illness & Death - Horary Astrology

Like the book, it is a biopic historical drama based on a true story. Lilly struggles with the burden of hiding a terrible truth but finds a way to overcome his moral conflict through his apprentice Tom Coley think Asa Butterfield who he hopes can save the city on his behalf.

The Astrologer’s Apprentice

The film juxtaposes inner conflict and outer rivalry, played out between two former friends turned enemies. The key theme of the film is that despite our talents and ambitions, we all suffer from human weaknesses and failings. Threads of science, politics, ambition, love and betrayal weave intricately through a story that resonates as well today as in Contact Julian for more information about his screenplay The Prediction.