The title page of the 1651 continuation of Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia, which is made available in facsimile in this volume, designates its author as 'Mris A. W.' It is now the convention to attribute the volume to Anna Weamys. Little is known about the author; the only other information about her is suggested by the substantial number of commendatory verses which precede the text. Though details about her and the specific motivations for continuing Sidney's work remain tantalisingly absent, Anna Weamys's text is important for understanding the reception of Sidney by women readers, as well as the development of prose fiction as it evolved towards the novel. Its female heroines illustrate a real concern with how women might navigate the straits of female behaviour in a judgmental and partisan society. The Introductory Note to this volume provides some analysis of how gender, class, and historical and cultural values affect what Weamys chose to pick up from Sidney's work and what seems to be of lesser interest to her. For example, in the three stories from Sidney's Arcadia on which she focuses, Weamys brings an awareness of the difficulties of women's position to bear on narrative in a way which prefigures the novel.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introductory note; A continuation of Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia.
Marea Mitchell is at the Department of English at Macquarie University, Australia.