A fascinating case study of the complex psychic relationship between religion and madness in early seventeenth-century England, the narrative presented here is a rare, detailed autobiographical account of one woman's experience of mental disorder. The writer, Dionys Fitzherbert, recounts the course of her affliction and recovery and describes various delusions and confusions, concerned with (among other things) her family and her place within it; her relation to religion; and the status of the body, death and immortality. Women, Madness and Sin in Early Modern England presents in modern typography an annotated edition of the author's manuscript of this unusual and compelling text. Also included are prefaces to the narrative written by Fitzherbert and others, and letters written shortly after her mental crisis, which develop her account of the episode. The edition will also give a modernized version of the original text. Katharine Hodgkin supplies a substantial introduction that places this autobiography in the context of current scholarship on early modern women, addressing the overarching issues in the field that this text touches upon. In an appendix to the volume, Hodgkin compares the two versions of the text, considering the grounds for the occasional exclusion or substitution of specific words or passages. Women, Madness and Sin in Early Modern England adds an important new dimension to the field of early modern women studies.
'Women, Madness and Sin contributes a unique source to the field of disability studies, which gives insight into how early modern England understood and treated mental illness, but in addition, it is a wonderful contribution to the social history of the period, providing information on family relationships, religious belief, women's work and social activities, as well as their sense of self and social authority. With its comprehensive introduction and meticulous transcription, Hodgkin has made this fascinating source available to a broad audience.' H-Disability, H-Net Reviews 'In Women, Madness and Sin in Early Modern England, Katherine Hodgkin explores the complex relationship between religion and madness and the early modern notion of sin in the autobiographical narrative of Dionys Fitzherbert… this authoritative book occupies an important niche in early modern literature that will be invaluable to specialist scholars particularly those researching women, writing and religion in this period. It is also accessible to non-specialists as a result of the author’s detailed and comprehensive scholarship which is notable for its clarity and erudition.' The British Society for Literature and Science '… [a] useful and worthwhile book. Indeed Hodgkin has continued her demonstration that she is the leading scholar of Dionys Fitzherbert.' Journal of British Studies 'One of the most helpful features of this handsomely produced volume is that it provides a transcript of Fitzherbert’s autograph manuscript along with a modernised text on the facing page. Fitzherbert’s spelling is wildly idiosyncratic and the presentation allows for easy reading, helpful for specialists and non-specialists alike… Hodgkin’s edition provides a rich picture of Dionys Fitzherbert’s troubled world, and enhances our understanding of how body, mind and spirit were perceived to function - and malfunction - in the seventeenth century.' Social History of Medicine 'This is an important wo
Contents: Introduction; Bibliography; Note on transcript; Transcript of Dionys Fitzherbert’s Manuscript; Appendix; Index.