My first book The Genesis of Freemasonry has just been published on its second imprint of the second edition. As my PhD on the history and development of English Freemasonry, it has captured interest since its first publication in 2009, and below is an excellent review by Masonic scholar Julian Rees:
This year celebrates the 300th anniversary of the founding of the first masonic Grand Lodge in England in 1717. Yet what we know of the ritual practices of Freemasonry at that period is very little indeed. We know something of the Grand Lodge itself and the people who constituted it, among whom is Jean-Théophile Desaguliers, a Huguenot who had to flee France as a child after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes and who became the third Grand Master of the Grand Lodge.
David Harrison brings Desaguliers and others to life in this very engaging account of the early days of Freemasonry in England, but he does far more than that, leading us through an examination of the early degree system of the ritual, putting it all in the context of the first half of the 18thC, thereby enabling us to see Freemasonry of the age as part of the socio-political scene rather than an odd leisure pursuit of the nobility and aristocracy. Harrison also mentions the use made by James Anderson of the occult philosopher and alchemist John Dee as a resource for masonic history.
But it is Desaguliers who provides the fascinating element in Harrison’s work. We learn something of Desaguliers’ friendship with Newton and something of Desaguliers’ part in the transition from operative to speculative Freemasonry and the development of the ritual from its original bi-gradal system to the tri-gradal system we know today. A well written work which will provide much background to this anniversary year.