“My daring Pen, will bolder Sallies make”: Seventeenth-Century Women’s Poetry

January 12, 2017, 8.15 a.m.

An der Universität 5

Room U5/02.22

Dr. Sarah Herbe (Universität Salzburg)

In her poem “The Liberty” (1703), Sarah Fyge Egerton complains that the only acceptable writing activity for women is “Transcribing old Receipts of Cookery” and giving advice on “useful Huswifery”, and she promises that her “daring Pen, will bolder Sallies make”. It is true that male authors dominate the canon of seventeenth–century poetry, since the lack of formal education as well as a general association of the book market with licentiousness made it much harder for women than for men to write and publish poetry. But Sarah Fyge Egerton was not the only woman who made her voice heard. Who were those women? What topics did they address? And in what genres did they write? In this lecture, we shall read a selection of poems by seventeenth-century women poets such as Lady Mary Wroth, Emilia Lanyer, Anne Bradstreet, Katherine Philips and Aphra Behn in their literary, cultural and socio-historical context.