Thomas Whithorne and First-Person Life-Writing in the Sixteenth Century

Elizabeth Heale

in The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Literature

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780199205882
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Thomas Whithorne and First-Person Life-Writing in the Sixteenth Century

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Literature
  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)


Show Summary Details


This article reviews a range of sixteenth-century first-person writing, including career narratives, chronicles, accounts of experience abroad, and versions of the self in verse. It then discusses Thomas Whithorne's autobiographical manuscript, ‘The Book of Songs and Sonnets’. Whithorne's manuscript records his verse, both secular and religious, contextualizing them with long prose narratives which present a life that strives to achieve social and professional success at the same time as conforming to approved standards of virtue. This text, however, shares a great deal in common with, and can only be properly understood as an example of, first-person writing more generally in the sixteenth century, particularly its concern with finding a stable and acceptable social identity, and its use of verse to produce rhetorically heightened versions of the self.

Keywords: first-person writing; sixteenth-century texts; personal experience; The Book of Songs and Sonnets

Article.  7902 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.