London: in fletestrete in the house of Thomas Berthelet, 1541 [1550?]. Early edition. The 1541 edition was the first to contain Elyot's preface, replacing the dedication to Cromwell. Title within woodcut border. Black letter. Small octavo (5 1/4 x 3 1/2 inches; 131 x 90 mm). , 73, 68-90 leaves. Bound without final blank, as is common. The is the earliest edition to be found at auction in the past 40 years. Eighteenth century calf, tooled in blind. Spine lettered and ruled in gilt. Board edges tooled in gilt. All edges speckled light green. Fore-edge of title-page frayed. Repairs along outer margins of leaves A5, A7 and A8, barely affecting text. Leaf I3, with upper, outer corner torn, but no loss of text. Some tiny wormholes and a bit of dampstaining, mainly to first few leaves. Boards a bit rubbed. Previous owner's bookplates on front and rear endpapers. Old ink notations to colophon, and some light early underscoring throughout. Housed in a full morocco slipcase. Overall very good.
Renowned as a diplomat and scholar, Elyot proclaimed that he was "continually trained in some daily affairs of the public weal ... almost from childhood." Under the instruction of physician Thomas Linacre, Elyot expanded his expertise into medicine and health, leading him to compose Castell of Helth, "a popular, sensible treatise on healthful living, with sound and practical advice on the recognition of the commoner symptoms of disease, as well as what to do about them" (Hunt). Considered one of Elyot's most important works, it influenced centuries of medical practice because "It popularized the theory of the four humours and complexions, which became a basic part of the intellectual make-up of Renaissance Britain, and suggested medicines and treatments for a variety of ailments...it differed from Linacre's own writings, for Linacre translated the works of Galen from Greek to Latin, hoping to make them accessible to doctors but not wishing to allow ordinary men and women to diagnose their own complaints. It was Elyot who provided an accessible handbook in the vernacular." A key text in the history of Western medicine and public health. (Oxford DNB) STC 7647, Norman 705A, Hunt 155n, ESTC S121123 (Item #1740)