John Dee was a real historical individual who lived between 1527 and 1608/9. He was a scholar of mathematics, astronomy, astrology, alchemy, divination and Hermetic philosophy. He did not see his studies of science and magic as being at odds, but rather as part of the same great mystery.
Dee’s learning attracted the attention of several very important people. Among these was Bruno’s friend Sir Philip Sidney, an English poet and courtier whom Dee tutored, and who will appear later in the story. Queen Elizabeth herself used Dee as an occasional consultant and advisor. Dee was also famous for his huge collection of books, one of the largest libraries in Europe.
Mortlake is now a district of London, but was then part of rural Surrey. John Dee lived in his mother’s house, remaining there after she died. He added an observatory, laboratories, and rooms to house his huge library. There is nothing left of the house today.
Spoiler Alert: As the novel deals with real historical people and events, clicking on the extra links provided in these bookmarks may give away the plot.