In this introduction to the diversity and scope of the writing by women in England from the beginning of the sixteenth century to the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, Patricia Demers discusses the creative realities of women writers' accomplishments and the cultural conditions under which they wrote. There were deep suspicions and restrictions surrounding the education of women during this period, and thus the contributions of women to literature, and to the print industry itself, are largely unkwn. This wide-ranging examination of the genres of early modern women's writing embraces translation (from Latin, Greek, and French) in the fields of theological discourse, romance and classical tragedy, original meditations and prayers, letters and diaries, poetry, closet drama, advice manuals, and prophecies and polemics. A close study of six major authors - Mary Sidney, Aemilia Lanyer, Elizabeth Tanfield Cary, Lady Mary Wroth, Margaret Cavendish, and Katherine Philips - explores their work as poets, dramatists, and romantic fiction writers. Demers invites readers to savour the subtlety and daring with which these women authors made writing an expressly social craft.
Patricia A. Demers is a professor in the Department of English at the University of Alberta.