His papers, detailing his disputes with the Company of Barber-Surgeons and his largely unsuccessful magical experiments are now in the Bodleian Library. He predicted his own death in a boat on the River Thames.
Forman left behind a large body of manuscripts dealing with his patients and with all the subjects that interested him, from astronomy and astrology to medicine, mathematics, and magic. His Casebook is the most famous of these resources, though he also produced diaries and a third-person autobiography. His texts have proven to be a treasure trove of rare, odd, unusual data on one of the most studied periods of cultural history. His intimate knowledge of Shakespeare's circle makes him especially attractive to literary historians. Incidentally, one of Forman's most famous patients was the poet Emilia Lanier, a leading candidate to have been Shakespeare's Dark Lady.
Modern scholars—A. L. Rowse is one prominent example, and others have followed his lead—have exploited Forman's manuscripts for the manifold lights they throw on the less-exposed private lives of Elizabethan and Jacobean men and women.
The odd content of the Book raised suspicions. The fourth play described by Forman is a Richard II acted at the Globe on 30 April 1611; but from the description it is clearly not Shakespeare's Richard II. No other play of the same title is known from this historical interval; and the idea of The King's Men acting a Richard II other than Shakespeare's, at the Globe, has puzzled some readers. The description of MacBeth mentions characters riding, a detail that readers with a knowledge of Jacobean dramaturgy and stagecraft have found startling if not incredible. To skeptics, the riding business has stood out as a red flag of warning.
The psychological content of the text has been a stumbling-block for skeptics. The idea that Forman, a worldly-wise and canny operator—a cynic might consider him a successful con-man—would spend his time drawing sententious morals from the stage plays he saw, has struck some as psychologically false.
The spellings in the document have also aroused suspicion. While English Renaissance orthography is certainly flexible, some of the document's vagaries—"Bocke" for "book," "Rog" for "rogue," "Bomia" for "Bohemia"—suggest the comical faux-Elizabethan extravagances in the earlier forgeries of William Henry Ireland.
Much of the debate on the "Bocke of Plaies" has centered on palaeographic arguments about the manuscript's handwriting. The amateur palaeographer Samuel A. Tannenbaum was vocal in his skepticism in the 1930s; but his palaeographic criticisms were refuted by other commentators. Many scholars have accepted the Book of Plays, despite its problematic aspects, as genuine. Skeptics, however, continue to appear.
Books: Love, Litigation and Dodgy Remedies ; Murrough O'Brien Enjoys Two Studies of the Renaissance Magician, Poet and Lecher Who Was Nevertheless a Compassionate Healer; Dr Simon Forman: A Most Notorious Physician by Judith Cook CHATTO Pounds 18.99 the Notorious Astrological Physician of London by Barbara Howard Traister CHICAGO Pounds 19
Feb 04, 2001; Gentlemen attend! If any among you be afflicted with nosebleeds, only heed the words of Dr Simon Forman. You have but to lay your...
Lauren Kassell. Medicine and Magic in Elizabethan London: Simon Forman: Astrologer, Alchemist, & Physician.(Book review)
Dec 22, 2007; LAUREN KASSELL. Medicine and Magic in Elizabethan London: Simon Forman: Astrologer, Alchemist, & Physician. Oxford: Oxford...