Elizabeth Melville and the religious sonnet sequence in Scotland and England
in Early modern women and the poem
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The lyrics in manuscript that Jamie Reid-Baxter has attributed to Elizabeth Melville, the Scottish religious poet and author of Ane Godlie Dreame, include three sequences of religious sonnets. Elizabeth Melville's innovative engagement with the religious sonnet sequence occurs at a crucial moment around the turn of the seventeenth century. Deirdre Serjeantson has argued that the English religious poetic of Henry Lok owes much to his Scottish connections, and to an 'emergent literary self-awareness' in religious poetry that was more developed in Scotland than in England. Elizabeth Melville's religious sonnets are, then, likely to date from some forty years after Anne Lock's Meditation of a Penitent Sinner, the foundational series of Calvinist, female-authored and sequential religious sonnets. Melville is also a known purveyor of the religious sonnet for spiritual succour in the first decade of the seventeenth century.

Editor: Susan Wiseman


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