Major Women Writers of Seventeenth-Century England

James Fitzmaurice, Carol L. Barash, Eugene R. Cunnar, Nancy A. Gutierrez, and Josephine A. Roberts, Editors
The first comprehensive anthology of seventeenth-century English women writers


Many would find it difficult to name a woman writer in England before Jane Austen, even though women were writing as early as the time of Chaucer. It was during the seventeenth century, however, that women writers ceased to be viewed as odd or remarkable and became accepted as regular and often respected members of the literary world. The enormous commercial and artistic success of Aphra Behn's plays on the London stage of the 1670s and '80s marked the end of the time where only men were literary luminaries. Major Women Writers of Seventeenth-Century England brings together in one volume a rich assortment of writing by the women Behn influenced, as well as those who preceded her. Collected are works by Aphra Behn, Elizabeth Cary, Margaret Cavendish, Anne Finch, Aemelia Lanyer, Katherine Philips, Ester Sowernam, Rachel Speght, and Mary Wroth.

The texts included are newly edited and rely on the best manuscripts and editions of the time. They are accompanied by clear introductions, helpful explanatory notes, and a range of illustrations from the period. The book will appeal to all those with an interest in the rich literary record of the period.

Editors: James Fitzmaurice, Northern Arizona University; Josephine A. Roberts, Louisiana State University; Carol L. Barash, Seton Hall University; Eugene R. Cunnar, New Mexico State University; and Nancy A. Gutierrez, Arizona State University.

Praise / Awards

  • "After years of neglect, the authors chosen for this anthology (Lanyer, Cary, Wroth, Cavendish, Philips, Behn, and Finch) are well on their way to receiving serious scholarly treatment. What they had not received, and what this anthology now superbly provides, is a counterpart to the 'major-writers' anthologies that feature canonical male authors. . . . [T]he texts have been edited with impressive care, and the editors have provided a section on textual notes for each author. . . . All of the editors deserve the heartiest congratulations; there is not a weak link here. This scholarly anthology is everything one could have asked for and more."
  • ". . . represents a crucial resource for the study of early modern women writers, whose texts have traditionally been too expensive or too inaccessible for ready course adoption. With the publication of anthologies such as Major Women Writers of Seventeenth-Century England, the serious scholarly advances in this field can become familiar to a larger culture, beginning with the classroom. . . . [D]eserves to be widely adopted not only in courses on women writers, but in courses on seventeenth-century literature in general."
    --Sidney Journal

Look Inside

Table of Contents:
  • Aemilia Lanyer
  • Elizabeth Cary, Viscountess Falkland
  • Lady Mary Wroth
  • Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle
  • Katherine Philips
  • Aphra Behn
  • Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea
  • The Swetnam controversy and defense of women
  • Rachel Speght
  • Ester Sowernam.

Product Details

  • 5.5 x 8.5.
  • 408pp.
  • 11 illustrations.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 1997
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06609-4

Add to Cart
  • $38.95 U.S.