In 1663, Martin Lister left his parents’ house in Lincolnshire to study medicine in Montpellier. During his three years in France, he kept a detailed journal in an almanac published as Every Man’s Companion: Or, An Useful Pocket-Book (MS Lister 19, Bodleian). There are other varied and rich referential sources of material about his journey utilised for this website. Another 25 pages of memoirs about Lister’s time in Montpellier also survive (MS Lister 5, Bodleian), as well as Lister’s correspondence. Furthermore, Lister’s travel companion, Phillip Skippon, and his mentor, the botanist John Ray, published accounts of part of their travels.
Lister was one of the more important doctors and virtuosi of his generation. He became a court physician to Queen Anne in 1702, contributed over fifty papers to the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society for which he served as vice-president, wrote nineteen books on medicine, antiquarianism and natural history, and was the first arachnologist and conchologist, as well as a chemist.