|About the Book|
Isabella Whitney is the earliest Englishwoman known to have written original secular poetry in English for publication. The Copy of a Letter contains four poems written in the personae of persons jilted in love. The only known copy of this volume is held at the Bodleian Library and is reproduced here. Whitneys second collection A Sweet Nosgay contains poetry in traditional stanzas and in prose format. Reproduced here is the unique copy held at the British Library.The French Historie by Anne Dowriche takes as its subject three events from the religious wars in France: the affair of the Rue St Jacques (1557)- the Martyrdom of Annas Burgeus (1559) and the St Bartholomews Massacre (1572). Her work takes as its source Thomas Tymmes The Three Partes of Commentaries, Containing the whole and perfect discourse of the Civill warres in Fraunce (1574). We reproduce here the fine copy of The French Historie held at the Huntington Library and also append two short poems thought to be hers.Ane Godlie Dreame, Compylit in Scottish Meter is Elizabeth Melvilles first person account of a pilgrim who is guided through the afterworld. While many of the variations in the different editions are merely accidental, there are some substantial changes. As an aid to bibliographic study of the poem therefore, copies of the following four editions are reproduced here: 1603 National Library of Scotland- 1604 National Library of Scotland- 1606 Huntington Library- 1620 British Library. Aemilia Lanyer was the first woman writing in English to produce a substantial volume of poetry designed to be printed and to attract patrongage. The Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum was published in 1611 and contains a series of poems to individual patrons, two short prose dedications, a title poem on Christs passion and the first country house poem printed in English. The volume is arguably the first genuinely feminist publication in England: all its dedicatees are women and the poem on the passion argues the virtues of women as opposed to the vices of men. The edition reproduced here is held at the Huntington Library. Rachel Speght is best known for her responses to the anti-woman tracts that formed a distinct genre in the Tudor and Stuart periods. These are reproduced in Part One of the Early Modern Englishwoman series. Her other published work is the poetry reproduced in this volume Mortalities Memorandum (1621), consisting of the title poem (dealing with the personal reality of death) preceded by A Dreame, an allegory describing her thirst for learning. The text reproduced here is held by the Huntington Library.Very little is known of Diana Primrose. It is argued, since genealogical records fail to name her, that this name is only an allegorical pseudonym. A Chaine of Pearle is the gift of a pearl necklace, consisting of ten pearls (poems), from Primrose to all noble ladies and gentlewomen. Each pearl/poem extolling the different virtues of women. We reprint here the Huntington Library copy.