Exemplarity, female complaint and early modern women’s poetry
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.
This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on the concepts discussed in the preceding chapters of this book. The book provides some measure of how the assessments, critics are approaching early modern women as writers, and more specifically as writers in the canonically charged mode of poetry. It focuses on both histories of inclusion, with a use of precedents indistinguishable from that of male contemporaries. It analyses the way in which gender inflects the insertion of a feminine lyric voice into generic conventions. Generic precedent is perceived to be available for use by the woman writer herself even if it is not valued by her contemporary readers. Suzanne Trill persuasively argues for Mary Sidney's rhetorical methods in revision of psalm translation as part of an unrecognised, divinely inspired project of collaborative authorship.