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. Whitney’s 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 Bartholomew’s Massacre (1572). Her work takes as its source Thomas Tymme’s 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 Melville’s 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 Christ’s 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 argu
Contents: Introductory Note; Isabella Whitney; Copy of a Letter; A Sweet Nosegay; Scattered poems possibly by Isabella Whitney; a. 'The Lady beloued exclaymeth of the great vntruth of her louer'; b. 'The lamentacion of a Gentilwoman vpon the death of her late deceased frend William Gruffith Gent.'; c. 'The complaint of a woman Louer, To the tune of, Raging loue'; d. 'Another by I.W.': Anne Dowriche: The French Historie; Scattered Poems by Anne Dowriche:a. Untitled Acrostic Poem; b. 'Verses written by a Gentlewoman, vpon the Iaylors Conuersion': Elizabeth Melville [Colville]: Ane Godlie Dreame (1603) 'A comfortabill Song'; A Godly Dreame (1604?) 'A Verie Comfortable Song'; A Godlie Dreame (1606) 'A Verie comfortable Song'; A Godlie Dreame (1620) 'A Verie Comfortable Song'; Aemilia Lanyer: Salve Devs Rex IvdÅ“orvm (1611/STC 15227.5); Undated letter from Alexander Dyce tipped into the copy of STC 15227.5 at The Huntingdon Library; Rachel Speght: Mortalities Memorandvm, with a Dreame Prefixed; Diana Primrose: A Chaine of Pearle.