Elizabeth Cary

(1585—1639) writer and translator

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strong‐minded only child of judge Sir Thomas Tanfield. She had mastered five languages before marriage at 15 to Henry Cary, later Lord Falkland. Secretly embracing Roman Catholicism, she separated from Falkland in 1625, was subsequently disinherited by her father, and died of consumption, in loneliness and want. She is recognized as author of the closet drama The Tragedie of Mariam (1613), ascribed to ‘E.C.’, the first known play in English by a woman. The drama, written in verse, raises Mariam, the ‘shrew’ wife of Herod, to tragic status. The play reflects Cary's own life, in the complex acrimony between dictatorial husband and dissident wife.

Subjects: Literature.

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