Women's Wealth and Women's Writing in Early Modern England: 'Little Legacies' and the Materials of Motherhood, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Women's Wealth and Women's Writing in Early Modern England

'Little Legacies' and the Materials of Motherhood, 1st Edition

By Elizabeth Mazzola


138 pages

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Focusing on both literary and material networks in early modern England, this book examines the nature of women's wealth, its peculiar laws of transmission and accumulation, and how a world of goods and favors, mothers and daughters was transformed by market culture. Drawing on the long and troubled relationship between Elizabeth Tudor, Mary Stuart, Bess of Hardwick, and Arbella Stuart, Elizabeth Mazzola more broadly explores what early modern women might exchange with or leave to each other, including jewels and cloth, needlework, combs, and candlesticks. Women's writings take their place in this circulation of material things, and Mazzola argues that their poems and prayers, letters and wills are particularly designed with the aim of substantiating female ties. This book is an interdisciplinary one, making use of archival research, literary criticism, social history, feminist theory, and anthropological studies of gift exchange to propose that early modern women - whatever their class, educational background or marital status - were key economic players, actively pursuing favors, trading services, and exchanging goods.


'In this eloquent, evocative, and valuable book, Elizabeth Mazzola thoroughly ties women's writing into material culture in a specific and detailed manner, providing a needed focus on the material (needlework,writing, cloth, poetry, and letters) produced by four related women: Queen Elizabeth, Bess Hardwick, Mary Stuart, and Arbella Stuart. She shows that their relationships are intricate and complex, and traces the General evolution of the relationship of women and goods/writings from rich networks of affiliation to empty commercial connections as England moves towards a consumer economy.' Mary Ellen Lamb, Southern Illinois University, USA ’By approaching women’s literary history not through the context of male literary history but through social history, the book highlights the connections between literary writing and the artistic productions of women’s daily lives.’ Renaissance Quarterly ’… a brief, insightful, interesting study of the material conditions in the ’ways women’s writings in the early modern period concern their wealth’… As an interdisciplinary study, this is [a] valuable resource… Highly recommended.’ Choice ’… a vitally important, excellent study. Women's Wealth and Women's Writing in Early Modern England represents the very best of literary historical scholarship: it expands productively upon previous research, develops innovative interpretive concepts that might be applied fruitfully in other contexts, and reveals significant, previously overlooked connections among events, texts, people, and things. Mazzola's book makes crucial contributions to our understanding of early modern women's cultural production, the social and material history of the elite family and household, and the gendered dynamics of court life.’ Clio '[Mazzola's book] is a model of the use of interdisciplinary archival resources to interpret women's texts and the place of those texts in early modern English culture.' Journal of British Studie

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Miroir or glasse; Borrowed robes; 'Manifest housekeepers'; Strange bedfellows; 'Girles aflote'; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Elizabeth Mazzola is Professor of English, City College of the City University of New York, USA

About the Series

Women and Gender in the Early Modern World

Women and Gender in the Early Modern World
The study of women and gender offers some of the most vital and innovative challenges to current scholarship on the early modern period. For more than a decade now, Women and Gender in the Early Modern World has served as a forum for presenting fresh ideas and original approaches to the field. Interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary in scope, this Routledge series strives to reach beyond geographical limitations to explore the experiences of early modern women and the nature of gender in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa. We welcome proposals for both single-author volumes and edited collections which expand and develop this continually evolving field of study.

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