In their studies of Dee's skryer
Edward Kelley, Susan Bassnett and Jan Backlund offer new information by introducing archival and biographical information about Kelley's stepdaughter, Elizabeth Weston, and about an alchemical circle possibly associated with Dee and Kelley.
By 1579, when Dee was approaching 53 (a great age for the time when most people were dead at the age of 30) he had taken on a 'skryer' or spirit medium in order to organise seances which the Elizabethans called 'actions'.
Dee seems to have leaned heavily on his chief 'skryer' - one Edward Kelley, who was christened on 2 August 1555 at St Swithin's Church in Worcester and was to take over from Dee in terms of reputation.
Certainly, the doctor seems to have been duped by his 'skryer' in one of the more outrageous frauds of the Early Modern Period.
The bulk of Woolley's account is devoted to the period of Dee's conversations with angels through the skryer
Edward Kelley from 1582 to 1589 which took Dee and Kelley on an adventurous journey to Poland and the Prague of Rudolf II and culminated in the famous episode of their sharing wives at the co mmand of the angels.
In more recent years, when neither angels nor demons are likely to inhabit the mental world of the scholar, the tendency has been to ignore this part of Dee's life or to assume that Dee was the victim of a deceitful if clever "skryer" named Edward Kelly.
Each session was recorded by Dee, who gave the location, the cast of characters (the name of the skryer, the angel, other participants, and Dee himself), and a record of the conversation set out in dialogue form.