A ‘goodly sample’
Exemplarity, female complaint and early modern women’s poetry
in Early modern women and the poem
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The story of 'Mistris Sanders' concerns the true-life murder of the London merchant George Saunders in 1573 by George Browne. The wofull lamentacion of Mistress Anne Saunders, which she wrote with her own hand, being prisoner in newgate' has survived only in a manuscript copy, in two hands, probably transcribed from a male-authored print text that is now lost. Indeed, a 1580 account of the crime, A View of Sundry Examples, Reporting Many Straunge Murthers, focuses solely on George Browne's motivation and actions in killing George Saunders, with Anne Saunder. Extending L. Hutson's arguments to popular poetry particularly that linked to historical crimes the chapter suggests that a similar awareness of the need for evaluation attaches to the exemplarity of the female plainant in gallows confession. Gallows confessions continued to circulate into the seventeenth century, and all gallows confessions did not result in a transformation from negative to positive exemplarity.

Editor: Susan Wiseman


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