I met Lisa Jardine in the early 1980s at Cambridge. I had just given a lecture on gifts in sixteenth-century France when a woman with brilliant red hair, smashing clothes and a huge smile came up to me. ‘I'm Lisa Jardine’, she said, and we immediately hugged, sisters of the spirit in that scholarly world where she was already turning things upside down. The true gift for me of that day was the friendship of Lisa Jardine, a woman in whom intellectual passion, social and political engagement and warm generosity were so powerfully combined.

By the 1980s, Lisa was well established at Jesus College Cambridge. She had long since put aside her early studies in mathematics to concentrate on literature and Renaissance cultural history. She also had behind her the publication in...

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