The Gendered Politics of Publication of Mary Fletcher’s Auto/Biography
This article focuses on the representation of Methodist preacher Mary Bosanquet Fletcher (1739–1815) in her biography by the Revd Henry Moore. His omissions and commentary served to neutralise some of her more radical ideas and early feminism, which can be discovered by reading her manuscript journals, as well as the manuscript correspondence between Mary Tooth, keeper of Mary Fletcher’s papers, and Henry Moore. The product of archival research in the Methodist collections at the John Rylands Library in Manchester, this article owes a great debt to archivists Dr Peter Nockles and Dr Gareth Lloyd.
This chapter probes the pairing of Elizabeth I with Deborah the Judge, the Bible figure most often used to describe Elizabeth's gynecocracy. It is also used to view the cultural constructs of the Hebrew woman who stood in both political and religious authority within Scriptures, and to link those constructions to the era's representations of the English queen. The Italian reformer Pietro Martira Vermigli's argument supports Elizabeth, whom he backed as a defender of Protestantism, while reinforcing Deborah's exceptionality. Deborah was discussed in the print dialogue concerning women prior to Elizabeth's reign, although there was a marked increase in the number and types of references to the female Hebrew judge during and even after the British gynecocracy. Although many of the writings on Elizabeth as Deborah attempted to restrain her authority and contain her, perhaps her own example helped disrupt the male mythology of kingship.