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Religion, Reform, and Women's Writing in Early Modern England


  • Page extent: 264 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.52 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 809/.89287
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: PR113 .C63 2002
  • LC Subject headings:
    • English literature--Women authors--History and criticism
    • English literature--Early modern, 10-1700--History and criticism
    • Religion and literature--Great Britain--History--16th century
    • Women and literature--Great Britain--History--16th century
    • Religion in literature

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521880671)

Long considered marginal in early modern culture, women writers were actually central to the development of a Protestant literary tradition in England. Kimberly Anne Coles explores their contribution to this tradition through thorough archival research in publication history and book circulation; the interaction of women's texts with those written by men; and the traceable influence of women's writing upon other contemporary literary works. Focusing primarily upon Katherine Parr, Anne Askew, Mary Sidney Herbert, and Anne Vaughan Lok, Coles argues that the writings of these women were among the most popular and influential works of sixteenth-century England. This book is full of prevalent material and fresh analysis for scholars of early modern literature, culture and religious history.

• Argues that the emergence of religious verse in England is largely due to women writers • Analyses all religious verse translations dated between 1535 and 1590 • Demonstrates how women were crucial advocates in the shift to Protestantism in England


Introduction: making sects: women as reformers, writers and subjects in Reformation England; 1. The death of the author (and the appropriation of her text): the case of Anne Askew's Examinations; 2. Representing the faith of a nation: transitional spirituality in the works of Katherine Parr; 3. '[A] pen to paynt': Mary Sidney Herbert and the problems of a Protestant poetics; 4. A New Jerusalem: Anne Lok's 'Meditation' and the lyric voice; 5. 'A Womans writing of diuinest things': Aemilia Lanyer's passion for a professional poetic vocation; Afterword.


Review of the hardback: 'Coles's innovative arguments are forcefully articulated and developed with attention to a variety of forms of evidence ranging from close reading of passages to analysis of publication histories. This book represents an important addition to a by now well-established scholarly conversation concerning early modern women's writings.' Nancy Bradley Warren, The Journal of British Studies

Review of the hardback: 'This book will certainly stimulate discussion in the years to come, for it not only offers compelling interpretations of individual texts, but it also asks us to take another look at the enormously complex development of religious poetry and the role that women played in sorting out cultural cross-currents.' Micheline White, Reformation

Review of the hardback: 'Coles's willingness to make bold arguments for the cultural significance of women's writing is a welcome advancement of the field.' Erica Longfellow, Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature

'… this is a fine piece of research that is compellingly argued and genuinely sheds new light on our understanding of early modern women's writing and its influence.' Literature and History

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