Women's Elegy

Lauren Shohet

in The Oxford Handbook of the Elegy

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199228133
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Women's Elegy

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  • Literature
  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)
  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)



This article presents a description on women's elegy in early modern England. The first female-authored poetry ever printed in England was elegiac, in the elevated mode: Jane, Margaret, and Anne Seymours' 1550 collection of one hundred Latin distichs praising the recently deceased French poet Marguerite de Navarre, sister of the French king. The elegies of Lucy Apsley Hutchinson interweave the personal loss of her husband with the historical loss of the English Commonwealth for which he laboured, making poetry that marks his death res publica. Katherine Philips wrote many elegies, both on private losses and on the deaths of public figures. Anne Bradstreet both wrote conventional funeral elegies for family members and used elegy to think about the English past. The elegies of Aphra Behn dramatically position the death of public figures as the occasion for public poetry.

Keywords: women's elegy; England; Lucy Apsley Hutchinson; Katherine Philips; Anne Bradstreet; Aphra Behn; Seymours

Article.  3892 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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