Scholars who study early modern women’s writing have been eager for a full-text edition of the works of Hester Pulter since her manuscript was discovered in the mid-1990s. Now that Alice Eardley has brought together all of Pulter’s writing—poetry, emblems, and a prose romance—in a modern-spelling edition, students and academics will be able to access a remarkable body of work. The introduction does a brilliant job of situating Pulter in various milieux (the Civil War, religion, science) and in assessing the genres in which she worked. Eardley’s edition is clear and comprehensive enough to be useful to a wide audience of non-specialists, but its learned glosses are also illuminating for more experienced readers of early modern texts.
Victoria E. Burke
Associate Professor, University of Ottawa
Written during the 1640s, 50s, and 60s, Lady Hester Pulter’s Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda addresses some of the most pressing issues confronting early modern England, including the political turmoil of the English Civil Wars, new developments in scientific enquiry, and the social status of women. The intensely emotional and confessional style of her occasional and devotional poetry is particularly unusual for its time, addressing issues such as childbirth, isolation, and mental and physical illness. Her emblem poems are the first known series of original emblems by an Englishwoman, and The Unfortunate Florinda, which features a cast of characters from North Africa, is one of the first English versions of the fashionable French romances of the period. Previously unknown to a wider readership, these recently discovered works shed new light both on the inner lives of early modern women and on seventeenth-century literary culture in general. This annotated edition modernizes spelling and punctuation, making a lively and engaging body of work easy to read and accessible.
ALICE EARDLEY has taught at the Universities of Oxford and Liverpool and is now Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Southampton. She has worked on the “Constructing Elizabeth Isham” project at Warwick University and the “Verse Miscellanies Online” project at the University of Reading and has contributed to editions of Lucy Hutchinson’s translation of Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura (OUP) and John Nichols’s The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth (OUP). Her publications include articles on early modern women’s writing and editorial theory in Studies in English Literature and Women’s Writing.
The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe: The Toronto Series 32
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