This book studies the mother figure in English drama from the mid-sixteenth to the early seventeenth centuries. It explores a range of genres from popular mystery and moral plays to drama written for the court and universities and for the commercial theatres, including history plays, comedies, tragedies, romances and melodrama. Familiar and less-known plays by such diverse dramatists as Udall, Bale, Phillip, Legge, Kyd, Marlowe, Peele, Shakespeare, Middleton, Dekker and Webster are subject to readings that illuminate the narrative value of the mother figure to early modern dramatists. The book explores the typology of the mother figure by examining the ways in which her narrative value in religious, political and literary discourses of the period might impact upon her representation. It addresses a range of contemporary narratives from Reformation and counter-Reformation polemic to midwifery manuals and Mother's Legacies, and from the political rhetoric of Mary I, Elizabeth and James to the reported gallows confessions of mother convicts and the increasingly popular Puritan conduct books. The relations between tradition and change and between typology and narrative are explored through a focus upon the dramatised mother in a series of dramatic narratives that developed out of rapidly shifting social, political and religious conditions.
finally in those of her children, as a crucial emblem of her rehabilitation and reassumption of the role of the ideal mother. Mistress Saunders’ passing on of a devotional book to her children, I will show, crucially inserts the tableau comprising mother and children into the cultural and literary tradition of the mother's legacy, a genre that emerged two decades before the publication of the play and that was to continue to flourish throughout the seventeenth century. The devotional book which appears in the final scene of the play, then, ensures Mistress Saunders
. 38 Jocelin ordered her shroud
in advance of her confinement. Her touching work combines cultural
sophistication (a sense of the symbolic weight of a mother’s death;
familiarity with the conventions required of a ‘Legacie’) with
intense emotion: love for her husband, concern for her child, fear for herself,
religious fervour and a need to reach somehow into an uncertain future.
Like the authors of mothers’ legacies, Jacobean dramatised
This chapter comprises an introduction to Lady Mary Carey's manuscript writings, selected reading, and the edited text of her ‘Meditations and poetry’ (1647-57). Carey's manuscripts were possibly circulated as an example of pious parliamentarianism. Extracts included are from her conversion narrative/mother's legacy titled ‘A Dialogue betwixt the Soul, and the Body’ (1647), elegies by Carey and her husband on the death of their son Robert (1650), Carey's elegy on the death of her son Peregrine (1652), meditations (c. 1657), and her most well-known poem, ‘Upon the Sight of my abortive Birth the 31st of December 1657’ which describes an early miscarriage. Her writings express desperation at her sufferings, struggling to interpret God's providence in her illnesses and the loss of five children, but conclude that bodily suffering is ultimately a sign of God's love.
This is a construction of human life intended to induce in the reader fervent devotional exercises and prayers, self-examination, patience, other-worldliness and heavenly-mindedness in the face of decay, mutability and mortality. Such spiritual exercises give us (again in a family context) the mother's legacy genre,
as well as the meditations on death in funeral sermons and the exemplary force of their short biographies of the deceased.
A striking feature of those funeral sermon biographies and
her own agency: an unhappy collision between her personal desires, her
condition as mother and matters of state. The penultimate chapter extends this
by considering a connection between Jacobean drama and contemporary discourses
concerning the Protestant family and its relation to the state. Taking such
diverse texts as Gouge’s Of Domesticall Duties and King
James’s writing on government, as well as the popular genre of
-enacted. Iman Sheeha in chapter 5 examines the modelling out of mothers’ legacies, a genre of conduct books penned and left by mothers for their children, in the anonymous domestic tragedy A Warning for Fair Women (1599). Sheeha reveals how the play frames the ‘gallows speech’ of a convicted murderess – Mistress Saunders – as exemplifying this genre, and culminates in Saunders leaving a copy of John Bradford's Meditations (1560) to her children. This act, coupled with her dying words, completes Saunders’ journey of rehabilitation from adulterous and murderous wife to
Rarities: Or, the Ingenious Gentlewoman
and Servant-Maids Delightfull Companion (London: Nicholas Boddington and
Joseph Blare, 1687), p. 83.
9 Elizabeth Joscelin, ‘Manuscript Mother’s Legacy’, in Sylvia Brown, ed., Women’s
Writing in Stuart England: The Mothers’ Legacies of Dorothy Leigh, Elizabeth
Joscelin and Elizabeth Richardson (Stroud: Sutton, 1999), pp. 106–39 (p. 109).
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Advising on body and spirit
fretful woman was thought likely to be fretful themselves. The reason for
this belief is to be found in the prevailing medical
15 [‘Eliza’], Eliza’s Babes: Or the Virgins-Offering (London: Laurence Blaiklock,
1652), p. 65.
16 John Calvin, The Sermons of M. John Calvin upon the Epistle of S. Paule to the
Ephesians, trans. Arthur Golding (London: Lucas Harison and George Byshop,
1577), 279v –80r.
17 Dorothy Leigh, The Mother’s Blessing, in Sylvia Brown, ed., Women’s Writing
in Stuart England: The Mothers’ Legacies of Dorothy Leigh, Elizabeth Joscelin and
Elizabeth Richardson (Stroud: Sutton, 1999), pp. 16–87 (p. 29).
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according to the
, has been greatly assisted by Michelle
Dowd’s insightful paper ‘Forms of Selfhood: Household Piety and The Mothers’
Legacy,’ delivered at the ‘Elizabeth Isham at Princeton Workshop,’ 8 September
2007. For further discussion of motherly advice books, see Michelle Dowd,
‘Structures of Piety in Elizabeth Richardson’s Legacie,’ in Genre and Women’s
Life Writing in Early Modern England, Michelle Dowd and Julie Eckerle, eds
(Aldershot, 2007), 115–130; Kristen Poole, ‘ “The Fittest Closet for All Goodness”:
Authorial Strategies of Jacobean Mothers’ Manuals’, Studies in