Because print publishing was often neither possible nor desirable for women in the early modern period, in order to understand the range of writing by women and indeed women's literary history itself, it is important that scholars consider women's writing in manuscript. Since the body of critical studies on women's writing for the most part prioritizes print over manuscript, this essay collection provides an essential corrective. The essays in this volume discuss many of the ways in which women participated in early modern manuscript culture. The manuscripts studied by the contributors originated in a wide range of different milieux, including the royal Court, the universities, gentry and aristocratic households in England and Ireland, and French convents. Their contents are similarly varied: original and transcribed secular and devotional verse, religious meditations, letters, moral precepts in French and English, and recipes are among the genres represented. Emphasizing the manuscripts' social, political and religious contexts, the contributors challenge commonly held notions about women's writing in English in the early modern period, and bring to light many women whose work has not been considered before.
'… an important contribution to the growing field of manuscript studies… an impressive range of writers and texts…' Early Modern Literary Studies '… beautifully produced… provide[s] fascinating empirical studies of specific cases… usefully expand[s] our understanding of women's lived experience in early modern England.' Renaissance Quarterly 'The essays included in this volume, most of them based on original archival research, illustrate the surprising heterogeneity of women's writing in manuscript during this period - poems, devotional tracts, translations, letters, commonplace books, collections of recipes - and […] implicitly challenge the conventional distinction between 'public' and 'private' writing… several [essays] are particularly valuable in the way they present familiar material, making the results of archival research available, with illuminating commentary…' The Library '… the kind of archival material that escaped notice over centuries in boxes labelled (literally or figuratively) 'of no importance', the collection makes for absorbing reading, largely because the contributors so effectively combine their expert studies of manuscript texts with a complex and engaging analysis of relevant historical contexts in their efforts to make the contributions of early modern women more fully visible… Overall, the volume constitutes a fine contribution to the present extraordinary renaissance in the study of early modern women's writing.' Universtiy of Toronto Quarterly
Contents: Foreword; Introduction; 'Desiring women writing': female voices and courtly 'balets' in some early Tudor manuscript albums, Elizabeth Heale; Katherine Parr, Princess Elizabeth and the crucified Christ, Jonathan Gibson; Mildred Cecil, Lady Burleigh: poetry, politics and protestantism, Jane Stevenson; Reading friends: women's participation in 'masculine' literary culture, Victoria E. Burke; CaitlÃn Dubh's Keens: literary negotiations in early modern Ireland, Marie-Louise Coolahan; Lady Anne Southwell's indictment of Adam, Erica Longfellow; Reading bells and loose papers: reading and writing practices of the English Benedictine nuns of Cambrai and Paris, Heather Wolfe; The notebooks of Rachael Fane: education for authorship?, Caroline Bowden; 'And Trophes of his praises make': providence and poetry in Katherine Austen's Book M, 1664-1668, Sarah Ross; The books, manuscripts and literary patronage of Mrs Anne Sadleir (1585-1670), Arnold Hunt; Perfecting practice? Women, manuscript recipes and knowledge in early modern England, Sara Pennell; 'Often to my Self I make my mone': early modern women's poetry from the Feilding Family, Alison Shell; Index.