The image of the 'fallen woman' was a common one in Elizabethan literature. This 1990 study, translated from the original German by the author, deals with an unconventional aspect of the motif; the genre of 'complaint' in which writers enabled women to put their own case, bewailing their fate, invoking pity, and stressing private rather than public virtues. The book begins with a group of Elizabethan poems in which women lament their unfortunate lives. It goes on to deal with a range of works, tracing the complaint from classical models such as Ovid's Heroical Epistles to Chaucer's Legend of Good Women and Shakespeare's Lucrece. However, Dr Schmitz shows that the mode is t confined to historical tales, r to the early or early modern periods. In Elizabethan times it occurs in vellas and meditations and can be seen as the inspiration for eighteenth-century Roxanas and the nineteenth-century Magdalen.