Literature and Theatre

Michael J. Franklin

This section contains the Hartly House, Calcutta novel, edited and annotated by Michael J. Franklin, Professor of English at Swansea University.

in Hartly House, Calcutta
Phebe Gibbes

This novel is a designedly political document. Written at the time of the Hastings impeachment and set in the period of Hastings’s Orientalist government, Hartly House, Calcutta (1789) represents a dramatic delineation of the Anglo-Indian encounter. The novel constitutes a significant intervention in the contemporary debate concerning the nature of Hastings’s rule of India by demonstrating that it was characterised by an atmosphere of intellectual sympathy and racial tolerance. Within a few decades the Evangelical and Anglicising lobbies frequently condemned Brahmans as devious beneficiaries of a parasitic priestcraft, but Phebe Gibbes’s portrayal of Sophia’s Brahman and the religion he espouses represent a perception of India dignified by a sympathetic and tolerant attempt to dispel prejudice.

Open Access (free)

Pastoral is one of the few literary modes whose genesis can be clearly traced. While poems reworking pristine rustic experience might have existed earlier, the pastoral mode as now recognized originated with the Greek poet Theocritus in the third century BCE. More correctly put, Theocritus provided a model that others followed to create the mode.

in Pastoral poetry of the English Renaissance

Pastoral Poetry of the English Renaissance contains the text of the poems with brief headnotes giving date, source and other basic information, and footnotes with full annotation.

in Pastoral poetry of the English Renaissance
An anthology

This is a companion to Pastoral poetry of the English Renaissance: An anthology (2016), the largest ever collection of its kind. The monograph-length Introduction traces the course of pastoral from antiquity to the present day. The historical account is woven into a thematic map of the richly varied pastoral mode, and it is linked to the social context, not only by local allegory and allusion but by its deeper origins and affinities. English Renaissance pastoral is set within the context of this total perspective.

Besides the formal eclogue, the study covers many genres: lyric, epode, georgic, country-house poem, ballad, romantic epic, drama and prose romance. Major practitioners like Theocritus, Virgil, Sidney, Spenser, Drayton and Milton are discussed individually.

The Introduction also charts the many means by which pastoral texts circulated during the Renaissance, with implications for the history and reception of all Early Modern poetry. The poems in the Anthology have been edited from the original manuscripts and early printed texts, and the Textual Notes comprehensively document the sources and variant readings. There are also notes on the poets and analytical indices of themes, genres, and various categories of proper names. Seldom, if ever, has a cross-section of English Renaissance poetry been textually annotated in such detail.

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New perspectives
Editor: Lisa Hopkins

Bess of Hardwick was one of the most extraordinary figures of Elizabethan England. She was born the daughter of a country squire. By the end of her long life (which a recent redating of her birth suggests was even longer than previously thought) she was the richest woman in England outside the royal family, had risen to the rank of countess and seen two of her daughters do the same, and had built one of the major ‘prodigy houses’ of the period. While married to her fourth husband, the earl of Shrewsbury, she had been gaoler to Mary, Queen of Scots, and her granddaughter by her second marriage, Lady Arbella Stuart, was of royal blood and might have been succeeded to the throne of England. This wide-ranging collection, which draws on the recent edition of her correspondence, brings out the full range of her activities and impact. It contains a biography, analysis of her language use, consideration of the roles of her servants and the management and nature of her households (including the complex and allegorical decorative scheme of Hardwick and its famous embroideries), and a new appraisal of the relationship between Bess and her granddaughter Arbella.

This chapter draws fully on the range of surviving sources and responds critically to the growing scholarship on the Tudor nobility and gentry to contextualise Bess within her time. Traces her four marriages (including the financial difficulties that beset the first two and the breakdown of the fourth), her role in guarding Mary, Queen of Scots, and her building activity. What marks Bess out is her extraordinary social mobility, rising from minor gentlewoman of limited prospects to immensely wealthy and powerful countess, that and the fact we know more about her than almost any other woman of her time. Her marriages, her buildings, her possessions and her letter-writing are all fascinating, but must be read within the context of other Tudor nobles and gentry (men as well as women), otherwise Bess will continue to be regarded as something of an exception – something of an aberration, even – and that would diminish her remarkable achievements.

in Bess of Hardwick

This chapter focuses on Bess’s textile production, starting with the textile hangings she produced for Chatsworth, which constitute the most ambitious known artwork produced by an Englishwoman in the early modern period. Although these textiles are in many ways distinct from the emblematic embroideries that Bess produced working alongside Mary, Queen of Scots, her royal prisoner during this period of time, there are also areas of overlap in style and subject matter. These areas of connection between Bess’s textile work and Mary Stuart’s support the assertion that Mary was a catalyst in Bess’s transformation from able embroiderer to what today we would call a textile artist. The chapter pieces together the story of her workshop at Chatsworth, located in the guarderobe there and in its attached room.

in Bess of Hardwick

This chapter discusses Bess’s use of language. It is based on seventy-eight letters, both scribal and holograph, that Bess wrote to various correspondents throughout her life. With a particular focus upon her spelling and grammar, it places Bess’s use of English within the context of what we already know about how women were using the language in Tudor and Stuart England, and the changes taking place in the language over the early modern period, defined here as 1500–1750.

in Bess of Hardwick
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Considers Bess’s achievement overall and rounds off the book.

in Bess of Hardwick