For women writers, the decades of the English Civil War were of special importance. This book presents a complex and rewarding poetic culture that is both uniquely women-centred and integrally connected to the male canonical poetry. It brings together extensive selections of poetry by the five most prolific and prominent women poets of the English Civil War: Anne Bradstreet, Hester Pulter, Margaret Cavendish, Katherine Philips, and Lucy Hutchinson. All these five women were attracting new and concerted attention as poets by seventeenth-century women. Bradstreet's poems first appeared in The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung up in America, and the later volume of Several Poemsincluded revised texts of those poems and several new ones. Each version of the poems spoke more directly on the context of the English Civil War. Pulter's poems construe Broadfield as a place of unwelcome isolation: she describes herself as 'shut up in a country grange', 'tied to one habitation', and 'buried, thus, alive'. Philips's poetry was first printed in 1664, her state-political poems, on members of the royal family and events of the Civil War, Interregnum, and Restoration, suggest Philips as a poet writing on matters of political significance. Cavendish's two major editions of Poems and Fancies in 1653 and 1664 each have strongly competing claims both to textual authority and to the more resonant political moment. Across poetry and prose, print and manuscript, Hutchinson's writing bears the marks of her fervent hostility to corrupt rulers and her remarkably broad education, adventurous reading habits, and energetic intellect.
poetry attests to a rich literary response to
the political events of the century.
This anthology presents a complex and rewarding poetic culture that
is both uniquely women-centred and integrally connected to the malecanonicalpoetry for which the era is justifiably famous. In subsequent
sections, the Introduction will delineate the historical contexts in which
– and about which – these poets write: the English Civil War; the relationship between religious conflict and poetry; the networks and communities
within which these women situated themselves; the