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Early Modern Literature in History General Editors: Cedric C. Brown, Professor of English and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Reading; Andrew Hadfield, Professor of English, University of Sussex, Brighton Advisory Board: Donna Hamilton, University of Maryland; jean Howard, University of Columbia; john Kerrigan, University of Cambridge; Richard McCoy, CUNY; Sharon Achinstein, University of Oxford Within the period 1520-1740 this series discusses many kinds of writing, both within and outside the established canon. The volumes may employ different theoretical perspectives, but they share an historical awareness and an interest in seeing their texts in lively negotiation with their own and successive cultures. Titles include:
Cedric C. Brown and Arthur F. Marotti (editors) TEXTS AND CULTURAL CHANGE IN EARLY MODERN ENGLAND Martin Butler (editor) RE-PRESENTING BEN JONSON Text, History, Performance Jocelyn Catty WRITING RAPE, WRITING WOMEN IN EARLY MODERN ENGLAND Unbridled Speech Dermot Cavanagh LANGUAGE AND POLITICS IN THE SIXTEENTH-CENTURY HISTORY PLAY Danielle Clarke and Elizabeth Clarke (editors) 'THIS DOUBLE VOICE' Gendered Writing in Early Modern England James Daybell (editor) EARLY MODERN WOMEN'S LETTER-WRITING, 1450-1700 Jerome De Groot ROYALIST IDENTITIES John Dolan POETIC OCCASION FROM MILTON TO WORDSWORTH Henk Dragstra, Sheila Ottway and Helen Wilcox (editors) BETRAYING OUR SELVES Forms of Self-Representation in Early Modern English Texts Sarah M. Dunnigan EROS AND POETRY AT THE COURTS OF MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS AND JAMES VI Andrew Hadfield SHAKESPEARE, SPENSER AND THE MATTER OF BRITAIN William M. Hamlin TRAGEDY AND SCEPTICISM IN SHAKESPEARE'S ENGLAND
Elizabeth Heale AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND AUTHORSHIP IN RENAISSANCE VERSE Chronicles of the Self Pauline Kiernan STAGING SHAKESPEARE AT THE NEW GLOBE Ronald Knowles (editor) SHAKESPEARE AND CARNIVAL After Bakhtin Arthur F. :vlarotti (editor) CATHOLICISM AND ANTI-CATHOLICISM IN EARLY MODERN ENGLISH TEXTS jennifer Richards (editor) EARLY MODERN CIVIL DISCOURSES Sasha Roberts READING SHAKESPEARE'S POEMS IN EARLY MODERN ENGLAND Rosalind Smith SONNETS AND THE ENGLISH WOMAN WRITER, 1560-1621 The Politics of Absence Mark Thornton Burnett CONSTRUCTI~G 'MONSTERS' IN SHAKESPEAREAN DRAMA AND EARLY MODERN CLJLTURE MASTERS AND SERVA~TS IN ENGLISH RENAISSANCE DRAMA Authority and Obedience
The series Early Modern Literature in History is published in association with the Renaissance Texts Research Centre at the University of Reading.
Early Modern Literature in History Series Standing Order ISBN 978-0-333-71472-0 (outside North America only)
You can receive future titles in this series as they arc published by placing a standing order. Please contact your bookseller or, in case of difficulty, write to us at the address below with your name and address, the title of the series and the ISBN quoted above. Customer Services Department, Macmillan Distribution Ltd, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 6XS, England
Sonnets and the English Woman Writer, 1560-1621 The Politics of Absence Rosalind Smith
ISBN 978-1-349-54268-0 ISBN 978-0-230-51368-6 (eBook) DOI 10.1057/9780230513686 This book is printed on paper suitable for recycling and made from fully managed and sustained forest sources. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Smith, Rosalind, 1968Sonnets and the English woman writer, 1560-1621: the politics of absence I Rosalind Smith. p. em. - (Early modern literature in history) Includes bibliographical references (p. ) and index. 1. Sonnets, English-History and criticism. 2. English poetry-Women authors-History and criticism. 3. English poetry-Early modern, 1500-1700-History and criticism. 4. Women and literatureGreat Britain-History-16th century. 5. Women and literatureGreat Britain-History-17th century. 6. Poetry-Authorship-Sex differences-History-16th century. 7. Poetry-Authorship-Sex differences-History-17th century. I. Title. II. Early modern literature in history (Palgrave Macmillan (Firm)) PR509.57565 2005 821'.042099287-dc22 10 14
Tranferred To Digital Printing 2012
For Mark, Felix and Isabel
List of Abbreviations
Introduction: Gender, Genre and Attribution in Early Modem Women's Sonnet Sequences and Collections 1 'In a mirrour clere': Anne Lock's Miserere mei Deus as Admonitory Protestantism Attribution and agency in early modern women's writing: The case of the Meditation The politics of dedication and circulation Out-troping Wyatt 2
Generating Absence: The Sonnets of Mary Stuart The casket sonnets: Attribution, circulation and sovereign textuality The politics of absence: The casket sonnets and the feminine erotic lyric The devotional sonnets
3 The Politics of Prosopopoeia: The Pandora Sonnets The Pandora sonnets: Translations from Desportes Ventriloquizing Elizabeth I The politics of prosopopoeia
1 13 15 26 31 39 40 46 55 61 65 72 79
4 The Politics of Withdrawal: Lady Mary Wroth's Pamphilia to Amphilanthus and Lindamira's Complaint 'Bard ... of Light': Spenserian negotiations in Pamphilia to Amphilanthus 'I thus goe arm'd to field': Lindamira's Complaint
This book examines why English women writers contributed to a central Renaissance lyric form, the sonnet sequence, in such small numbers and at such odd times in the development of the genre. It might seem perverse to concentrate upon absence rather than presence at this stage of research in the field of early modern women's literary history, especially given the wealth of new writing uncovered in recent feminist scholarship. However, this book uses the example of this single, idiosyncratic genre for two purposes. First, it aims to denaturalize any general assumption of women's absence or exclusion from particular modes of writing in the period. Such instances of absence do not constitute natural examples of feminine limitation that can pass unremarked, but phenomena themselves that might be examined, questioned and analyzed. Second, the study highlights the surprisingly significant consequences arising from the operation of such unexamined assumptions of absence in the field of early modern women's writing. Taken collectively for the first time, the texts under examination here are shown to radically change the shape of early modern women's writing in England. Their history shows moments of startling innovation, agency and possibility, as well as a single instance of textual circulation that may have effectively closed down women's secular lyric activity in print for fifty years. This book argues that this instance- the casket sonnets attributed to Mary Queen of Scots and widely circulated in print as Protestant propaganda from 1571 -involved a scandalous narrative of rape and adulterous love that made the genres of the sonnet sequence and female complaint unavailable to English women writers in print until Mary Wroth's unfashionably late 1621 sequences in the Urania. This specific and local instance of textual circulation worked with a set of cultural prescriptions surrounding women's conduct to preclude women's participation in the genre at its height in the late Elizabethan period. This book therefore challenges the critical commonplace that the gender encodings of the genre of the Petrarchan sonnet themselves limited or prevented women's use of the genre. It does so by highlighting the ways in which women in England practised the genre before the publication of the casket sonnets and in their wake, and by comparing the English tradition to a surprisingly prolific Continental tradition of women's sonnet writing in the Italian and French Renaissances. In line viii
with much recent work on women's writing in the field of early modern studies, this book also challenges the idea that when women writers used the genre, they did so in ways essentially or predictably different to the practice of their male counterparts. Gender does make differences here to women's practice within the genre, but these are not differences that always manifest themselves in the same ways - especially not through a consistent interest in the 'private' emotional or domestic concerns that have been argued in the past. The study's concentration on the particular conditions of production, circulation and reception of these sequences seeks to illuminate a more complex understanding of the way in which gender and genre intersect in the period. In different ways, these texts all operated as political interventions underwritten by Protestantism; but what Protestantism meant in each of these contexts, and the agency that it afforded or denied women authors and constructions of women's writing, differs radically in each literary history traced here. An early reader of this material commented that she could not see how anyone could make an argument from such a strange collection of poetry. In this respect, this book is the product of its critical generation, which favours the obscure over the canonical: neglected poetic coteries; once overlooked genres such as the newsbook, pamphlet, or sermon; and marginal practitioners such as the pornographers of the Elizabethan lyric. But there is a sense that the material examined here is at the far reaches of this literary marginality. This is in part because the texts appear in anomalous circumstances, where an early history of secular lyric agency and innovation in the genres of sonnet and complaint is almost immediately foreclosed. These early conventions of sonnet and complaint, never repeated in the history of the Elizabethan lyric, remain odd and unfamiliar. But the marginality of many of the texts under consideration here also derives from their status as works of uncertain attribution. Considered neither as a secure part of the canon of women's writing nor as male-authored texts, their unresolved problems of authorship means that they have remained at the edges of literary history. This book uses the uncertainty surrounding these texts to expose a set of methodological problems and omissions in the field of early modern women's writing. On one hand, this study argues that questions of attribution matter. It is not enough to make strained and poorly supported ascriptions of authorship to women writers in the hope of falsely bolstering the number and diversity of women's texts in the period. Contested attributions need detailed and scrupulous attention, and the possibility of male
authorship of texts circulated under women's signatures needs to be entertained if we are to gain a sense of what might have been historical women's writing practice in the English Renaissance. On the other hand, this book argues that if an attribution remains unresolved, the text can still be productively analyzed and, in some cases, this analysis may still be undertaken within the field of early modern women's writing. Indeed, such texts allude to the ghostly presence of an historical woman writer through a set of para textual signals such as signature and circulation practice, but correspond unpredictably to the originating presence of such a writer. In this process, they illuminate a surprising set of conventions and possibilities surrounding ideas of women's writing in the early modern period. This study regards female authorship and female writing as separate but related categories, and in doing so attempts to extend the boundaries of what is understood to constitute early modern women's writing. Further, if the impact of texts of uncertain authorship in this single genre is such as to alter the direction of women's lyric agency in the period, it raises the question of the impact of other texts of disputed attribution in other genres. How might their consideration alter our understanding of not only women's textual practice in the period, but early modern writing in general? This work began as a thesis at the University of Oxford, under the exemplary, rigorous and inspiring supervision of David Norbrook. It also benefited in its early stages from the influence of a mentor, colleague and friend, Lorna Hutson, and the input of Terence Cave, Diana Birch and Ros Ballaster. I received a number of grants in this period that allowed me to complete my primary research. I would like to thank Exeter College, the University of Sydney and the Newberry Library for their assistance. My time at Oxford was made infinitely more enjoyable because of my friends there: Scott Ashley, Hannah Betts, Brad Hoylman, Simon Hudson, Margaret Kean, Eleri Larkum, William O'Reilly, Michelle O'Callaghan, Bruce Taylor and Clare Taylor. More recently, colleagues at the University of Newcastle have given me a sustaining level of friendship and support; I would like to thank Hugh Craig, David Boyd, Therese Davis, Tim Dolin, Lucy Dugan, Ivor Indyk, David Matthews, Chris Pollnitz, Imre Salusinszky and especially David Kelly for their collegiality and conversations over the years. But my particular thanks must go to two colleagues and friends who helped me beyond the call of duty in preparing this manuscript for publication: Mark Gauntlett and Dianne Osland. Both interrogated my arguments and improved my writing beyond measure; their own prose styles are models of elegance and clarity, and any infelicities of expression remaining in this book are
my own. I would also like to thank Hugh Lindsay for assisting me with some Latin translations. I am grateful to the University of Newcastle for providing me with crucial periods of research time and grants that allowed me to rewrite my thesis as a book. Finally, my greatest debt is owed to my family. This project would never have been finished as a thesis without the emotional and material support of Marie Lewin, Gwen Smith and Ian Smith, and it became a book only with the support and inspiration of my husband Mark Prince and my beautiful children: Felix, Isabel and our newest addition. Without you, 'my wordes be but wind'. I am grateful to the librarians of the British Library and the Bodleian Library for permission to reprint material from manuscript sources. I would also like to thank Danielle Clarke and Elizabeth Clarke for including an earlier version of Chapter 1 in 'This Double Voice': Gendered Writing in Early Modern England (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000). A section of Chapter 3 appeared in 'The Sonnets of the Countess of Oxford and Elizabeth I: Translations from Desportes', Notes and Queries 239 (1994): 446-50. Earlier versions of two sections of Chapter 4 have also appeared in print: 'Lady Mary Wroth's Pamphilia to Amphilanthus: The Politics of Withdrawal', ELR 30:3 (2000): 408-31; and' "I thus goe arm'd to field": Lindamira's Complaint', Meridian 18:1 (2001): 73-85. I am grateful to the editors and to the publishers of these works for permission to publish revised versions of this material in this book.
List of Abbreviations ANQ BL ELH ELR Geneva Bible
JWCI NLH NQ PRO SEL
American Notes and Queries British Library English Literary History English Literary Renaissance The Geneva Bible: A Facsimile of the 1560 Edition, intra. Lloyd E. Berry (Madison and London: University of Wisconsin Press, 1969). Unless otherwise stated, all biblical references are to this edition. Journal of the Warburg and Cortauld Institutes New Literary History Notes and Queries Public Record Office Studies in English Literature
Where possible, the texts of the poetry and letters reproduced here are all based on original manuscript sources, or early modern print sources when no manuscript source is extant. Punctuation and orthography are derived from the original source with minimal modernization, except for the long /s/ and the expansion of the abbreviated superscript /t/ and other contractions. There has been no normalization of /u/, /v/, /w/ and /i/, /j/, and Lowland Scots terminology such as 'quhilk' has not been translated. Omissions of words and lines are indicated in square brackets. Publishers have been given for texts published after 1800.