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BIC Excellence Award

Early British Swimming 55BC-AD1719

By Nicholas Orme

Early British Swimming 55BC-AD1719
Paperback, 228 pages £20.00
Published: 1983
ISBN: 9780859891349
Format: 210mm x 148mm
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Subjects: British History, History

In 1857 Everard Digby, an extrovert Cambridge scholar, published the first scientific treatise on swimming – and one of the first on any modern sport. Six months later he was expelled from his college, and dies in obscurity as a country parson. Nicholas Orme rehabilitates Digby as a great pioneer of the history of sport.

The book opens with a detailed history of swimming in Britain from the Romans to the sixteenth century, which is followed by an account of Digby’s life and work and its impact on swimming down to the eighteenth century.

The book also includes the first modern edition of Digby’s treatise, in the English version of 1595, with the 43 original illustrations.


1. From the Romans to the Vikings

2. The Middle Ages, 1066-1500

3. The Sixteenth Century

4. Everard Digby and his 'Art of Swimming'

5. Digby's Successors and the Seventeenth Century

6. A Short Introduction for to Learn to Swim, translated by Christopher Middleton from Digby's De Arte Natandi



Nicholas Orme is Professor of History at the University of Exeter. His previous works included English Schools in the Middle ages (Methuen, 1973) and Education in the West of England (University of Exeter, 1976), and other books and articles on religion and education during the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Publication Details:

 Paperback , 228 pages
 210mm x 148mm

BIC Code:
 1DBK, 3D, 3F, 3H, 3J, HBTB, WSSC
  HIS054000, SPO043000
 University of Exeter Press


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