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Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies

Victoria University in the University of Toronto

The True Medicine, by Olivia Sabuco de Nantes Barrera

267 pp. / Softcover / 2010 / ISBN 978-0-7727-2067-2 / $31.95

267 pp. / Softcover / 2010 / ISBN 978-0-7727-2067-2 / $31.95

Edited and translated by Gianna Pomata

“With unprecedented clarity and care, Gianna Pomata brings an important text in the history of scientific authorship to the attention of modern-day readers. Published in Spain in 1587 under the name of Oliva Sabuco, True Philosophy of Human Nature, of which The True Medicine is part, was soon thereafter claimed to be the work of her father’s pen. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, approaches to the text have often focused uncritically on the authorial controversy, providing polarized irreconcilable interpretations. Pomata, however, explores the wider context of production and reception of True Philosophy with analytical sophistication, making it inseparable from the authorial question and tracing the most reliable historical understanding to date of this influential text. Her English translation flows accurately while avoiding anachronism and will surely become standard reference for anyone interested in the cultural history of female authorship or early modern medicine and science.”

— Montserrat Cabré
Associate Professor of the History of Science and Director of the Women and Gender Studies Program
Universidad de Cantabria, Spain


“One of the first printed medical texts to be attributed to a female author, The True Medicine (1587) is radically innovative in its rejection of contemporary medical theory for a more pro-feminist physiology and cosmology. Pomata does not conclusively solve the puzzle of whether this influential and fascinating work was written by Oliva Sabuco or her father, but she offers a masterly review of the evidence. This splendid translation, together with its authoritative introduction and annotations, will be of the greatest interest to scholars and teachers in the history of science and medicine, women’s history, and early modern studies.”

— Katherine Park
Samuel Zemurray, Jr. and Doris Zemurray Stone Radcliffe Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University

To view an excerpt of this work, please click here [PDF].

The Editor:

Gianna Pomata is professor of the history of medicine at Johns Hopkins University.


Colonial Latin American Historical Review, (Summer 2007), pp. 355-356.

Renaissance Quarterly, 64:1 (Spring 2011), pp. 230-231. Reviewed by Marlen Bidwell-Steiner.


To order:

The Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies no longer sells or distributes books in “The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe: The Toronto Series.” Starting July 2015, volumes can be purchased by individuals and institutions from the Chicago Distribution Center. Contact CDC by email (, by fax (800-621-8476 or 773-702-7212), or by phone (800-621-2736 or 773-702-7000).

267 pp. / Softcover / 2010 / ISBN 978-0-7727-2067-2 / $31.95

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