A Woman to Know: Lady Mary Wroth
|Julia Carpenter||Apr 25, 2016|
My hopes in love are dead. — Mary
(image via Wikimedia Commons)
In many ways, Lady Mary Wroth was one of the original oversharing poets.
The most amazing thing about her is that she wrote all this incredibly personal, vulnerable, moving love poetry in an era when many women didn't even write shopping lists.
In 1599 Mary became the first Englishwoman to publish a complete sonnet sequence — 16,000-plus words long, starring two female heroines and their wonderfully tight friendship. She would eventually publish multiple poetic sagas, all somewhat surreal (do you see her dress above? It's patterned in eyes), sweet and soapy.
With a dash of kink, of course: her "burning heart" poems are pretty much all love poems about her kind-of-creepy cousin. He strung her along for years and years (they even shacked up in a family castle for a month) and then eventually married someone else, claiming Mary was "too poor" to wed. This tortured cousin love made for some delicious melodramatic poetry:
Nightly I will lye
Since all true love is dead.
Add to your library list:
Pamphilia to Amphilanthus (Lady Mary Wroth)
Writing Women in Jacobean England (Barbara Lewalski)
Re-reading Mary Wroth (Katherine R. Larson)
Lady Mary Wroth's handwritten manuscripts (The Folger Shakespeare Library)
Lady Mary Wroth's poetry, annotated (Genius)
"Shakespeare's Sisters" (The New York Times)
Sir Philip Sidney and Lady Mary Wroth (University of Arizona)
Producing Women's Poetry 1600-1730 (Cambridge University)
Lady Mary Wroth (The Poetry Foundation)
Lady Mary Wroth (The Luminarium)
Fun fact: Lady Mary Wroth was my original research project in college, when I was an 18-year-old baby English major. I wrote a pre-thesis, presented at a conference and then told my badass English lit prof (heyyy Dr. Teague!): "Yeah, I hate Petrarchan love poetry."
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