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Women and Writing, c.1340-c.1650

Women and Writing, c.1340-c.1650: The Domestication of Print Culture

Anne Lawrence-Mathers
Phillipa Hardman
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 252
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt9qdk7z
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  • Book Info
    Women and Writing, c.1340-c.1650
    Book Description:

    The transition from medieval manuscript to early printed book is currently a major topic of academic interest, but has received very little attention in terms of women's involvement, a gap which the essays in this volume address. They add female names to the list of authors who participated in the creation of English literature, and examine women's responses to authoritative and traditional texts in revealing detail. Taking its cue from the advances made by recent work on manuscript culture and book history, this volume also includes studies of material evidence, looking at women's participation in the making of books, and the traces they left when they encountered actual volumes. Finally, studies of women's roles in relation to apparently ephemeral texts, such as letters, pamphlets and almanacs, challenge traditional divisions between public and private spheres as well as between manuscript and print. Dr Anne Lawrence-Mathers is Lecturer in History, University of Reading; Phillipa Hardman is Senior Lecturer in English, University of Reading. Contributors: Gemma Allen, Anna Bayman, James Daybell, Alice Eardley, Christopher Hardman, Phillipa Hardman, Elizabeth Heale, Anne Lawrence-Mathers, Adam Smyth, Alison Wiggins, Graham Williams

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-857-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Plates
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. List of Contributors
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)
    Anne Lawrence-Mathers

    It is particularly satisfying that this volume should be one of the first in the new series on Manuscript Culture in the British Isles. The central issue with which it deals, the transition from manuscript to print, is well studied in terms of its relation to contemporary events in Britain, especially the rise of Protestantism and the absorption of influences and ideas from the Italian Renaissance.¹ However, it is only in recent decades that the issue of gender, and its importance in inflecting the impact of these great movements of cultural transformation, have been addressed. Since Joan Kelly famously asked...

  7. Domestic Learning and Teaching: Investigating Evidence for the Role of ‘Household Miscellanies’ in Late-Medieval England
    (pp. 15-33)
    Phillipa Hardman

    ‘Thus taughte me my dame’ – so characters in Chaucer’sCanterbury Talesrefer to things they have known from their earliest youth. These words are used by both the narrator of the ‘Manciple’s Tale’ and the tavern boy in the ‘Pardoner’s Tale’, to authorize their quotation of a piece of traditional wisdom.¹ The tavern boy refers to his mother’s teaching him always to be prepared to face death (683), an example of the sombre but salutary dicta prominent in the formation of Christian children from medieval to Victorian times. The Manciple recalls his mother’s repeatedly instructing him to be sparing of...

  8. Domesticating the Calendar: The Hours and the Almanac in Tudor England
    (pp. 34-61)
    Anne Lawrence-Mathers

    The printed almanacs of sixteenth-century England represent something of a challenge to historians. On the one hand it is clear that, in their own time, these publications were enormously popular and influential; but on the other hand their printed contents are so formulaic and repetitive as to appear almost empty of valuable information. Their most striking feature is the ubiquity of astrological terminology and information. This, together with the scale of their popularity, has led to their being considered in the past as ‘merely’ the repository of what was seen as popular superstition. The Victorian editors and cataloguers who did...

  9. ‘a briefe and plaine declaration’: Lady Anne Bacon’s 1564 translation of the Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae
    (pp. 62-76)
    Gemma Allen

    Thus wrote Matthew Parker, archbishop of Canterbury, in a letter to ‘the right honorable learned and vertuous Ladie A.B.’. The ‘Ladie A.B.’ in question is Lady Anne Bacon (1528–1610) and the letter was appended to her translation of John Jewel’sApologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae, published in 1564. The translation deserves closer attention than it has so far received. At first sight, Parker’s dedicatory epistle portrays the translation as a semi-private manuscript work by a woman, which only accidentally found its way into print. Closer analysis reveals that whilst this translation was produced by a woman within a domestic setting, Anne...

  10. Frances Wolfreston’s Chaucer
    (pp. 77-89)
    Alison Wiggins

    In July 2005 the Folger Shakespeare Library acquired a previously unnoticed copy ofThe workes of Geffray Chaucer(Folger STC 5074 Copy 2), edited by William Thynne, printed in 1550. The ‘flashpoint’ for the purchase was its provenance: in the seventeenth century this copy ofChaucerwas in the private library of Frances Wolfreston and the Folger now holds thirteen of her books. The volume is of further value and interest because it is littered with manuscript marginalia by various earlier readers who, as will be shown, can be identified as Wolfreston’s female ancestors and their associates at Haslington Hall...

  11. Commonplace Book Culture: A List of Sixteen Traits
    (pp. 90-110)
    Adam Smyth

    Work on commonplace books has had a problem with definitions. Some times, particularly in library catalogues, the term ‘commonplace book’ is used in an unhelpfully loose sense to describe almost any early seventeenth century manuscript of a miscellaneous character. At other times, scholarly discussion has focused on printed prescriptions – on guides to common placing rather than the products of that method. As a result of this concentration on theory, the commonplace book in criticism is a largely disembodied text, a set of ideals rather than enactments.¹ But a quick forage through the archives shows that extant commonplace books rarely conform...

  12. Women, Politics and Domesticity: The Scribal Publication of Lady Rich’s Letter to Elizabeth I
    (pp. 111-130)
    James Daybell

    This essay studies a single letter by Penelope, Lady Rich (1563–1607) as a means of examining the roles that early modern women played in scribal publication and Elizabethan court politics. Written in the aftermath of the earl of Essex’s disgrace in 1599, the letter interceded with Queen Elizabeth on her brother’s behalf. It came in the wake of a series of epistolary solicitations for royal clemency which flowed from Penelope Rich’s pen, a performance of sisterly duty. In this manner, the letter highlights the intersection of ‘domestic’ and ‘political’ spheres during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and particularly the...

  13. ‘yr scribe can proove no nessecarye consiquence for you’?: The Social and Linguistic Implications of Joan Thynne’s using a Scribe in Letters to her Son, 1607–11
    (pp. 131-145)
    Graham Williams

    Taken alone, this, the last surviving letter sent from Joan Thynne to her son Thomas in 1611,¹ affords little out of the ordinary from what we know about letter-writing practice in the early seventeenth century. The subject matter is familiar and discussion of a dowry, health and living are by no means exceptional topics to have passed between a mother and son. The value placed on writing one’s own letters to loved ones is reflected here, and Joan’s apology for scriblinge’ was in fact a common feminine trope.² The bold, easy-to-read italic script in which it is written is as...

  14. Fathers and Daughters: Four Women and their Family Albums of Verse
    (pp. 146-161)
    Elizabeth Heale

    This essay considers women’s participation in the copying, transmission and possible composition of verse as witnessed by three manuscripts belonging to the later sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Each of the manuscripts was used by one or more women to copy and preserve family collections of verse, and each suggests familial and, in these cases, particularly paternal, support for daughters’ participation in, and enjoyment of, the circulation and writing of secular verse. The women involved were all daughters of practising poets: Francis and Ellina Harington, daughters of Sir John Harington; Mary Maitland, daughter of Sir Richard Maitland, and Lucy Davies,...

  15. The Book as Domestic Gift: Bodleian Ms Don. C. 24
    (pp. 162-176)
    C. B. Hardman

    Mary Oldisworth, ‘late of the parish of Batsford’ in Gloucestershire, the widow of priest and poet Nicholas Oldisworth and, like him, a member of a well-established local gentry family, died in 1684 and was buried in Tewkesbury Abbey. Mary died intestate and formal arrangements were therefore made under the provisions of theAct for the better settling of Intestates Estatesinvolving her elder surviving daughter Mary Sherwood, John Mann of Tewkesbury (the husband of her younger daughter Margaret), and Margaret herself.¹ There are no details of the deceased’s goods and chattels at her death or of the subsequent disposal of...

  16. ‘like hewen stone’: Augustine, Audience and Revision in Elizabeth Isham’s ‘Booke of Rememberance’ (c. 1639)
    (pp. 177-195)
    Alice Eardley

    Early in her autobiographical ‘Booke of Rememberance’, Elizabeth Isham writes: ‘I would not offer that to the Lord my God which doth cost me nothing but like hewen stone I have prepared this in all points as true as I could.’¹ She presents her narrative as a ‘true’ account of her own life and emphasizes the effort expended in revealing that truth, later adding that the ‘cost’ of the labour that went into her task was summoned from both ‘soule’ and ‘body’. Like ‘hewen stone’ that has been carved and polished, her text has been crafted from the raw material...

  17. Female Voices in Early Seventeenth Century Pamphlet Literature
    (pp. 196-210)
    Anna Bayman

    Thequerelle des femmes, a literary debate between detractors and defenders of women, had a long pedigree. Formalized classical and medieval debates fed the artful exchanges of humanists, in which the nature of women became a subject for displays of rhetorical skill. Biblical and early Christian exempla were deployed by early modern contributors to thequerellealongside material drawn from romance literature, popular traditions of misogyny and the ‘battle of the sexes’ (in which the ‘shrew-taming’ material ranks as some of the most notorious), and from the related debate over the respective benefits of married and single life.¹ Thequerelle...

  18. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 211-230)
  19. Index
    (pp. 231-238)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 239-242)