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AnnebradstreetLG

Anne Bradstreet (?1612-1672). Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Anne Bradstreet (?1612 - September 16, 1672) was a colonial American poet, the first female poet to be published in the New World. She was both the daughter and the wife of Massachusetts Bay Colony Governors. As an accomplished poet she laid the groundwork for other female writers to emerge in an era when women generally tended to family and domestic matters. Through her poetry she eloquently expressed the concerns of a Puritan wife and mother, giving significant historical insight and perspective on the lives of the early settlers to America. In modern times, she is still regarded as one of the most important American woman poets.

LifeEdit

Life in EnglandEdit

Bradstreet was born Anne Dudley in Northhampton, England, the daughter of Puritan leader Thomas Dudley and Dorothy Dudley. Her father was a steward to the Earl of Lincoln, and as such the family lived the life of privileged gentry. Bradstreet was tutored by her father but was largely self-educated through her reading of the classics, Shakespeare, and the Bible. She was an admirer of French poet Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas who was popular with 17th-century readers. His epic poem, La Sepmaine; ou, Creation du monde (1578), was said to have influenced John Milton's own classic epic, Paradise Lost.

At the age of 16, young even by the standards of the day, she married Simon Bradstreet. Both Anne's father and husband were Puritan nonconformists at a time when religious intolerance was on the rise in England, under Charles I. They decided to set sail for the American colonies aboard the Arbella, under the leadership of John Winthrop, during the Great Migration of 1630.[1] Later both her husband and father were to become Governors of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Leaving the comfort and security of England could not have been easy for Bradstreet. After a difficult journey the family was shocked by the circumstances of early settlers, who were suffering from starvation, and were subjected to the constant threat of both disease and Native American attack. She said of her arrival in America, "my heart rose in protest against the new world and new manners," but she admitted that she "faithfully submitted." Reconciling her faith with the tenuous and uncertain life of a colonist was to be a major theme in her work.

Life in the American coloniesEdit

On a visit back to England, in 1647, Bradstreet's brother-in-law, Rev. John Woodbridge, published a manuscript of her poetry without her consent or knowledge. The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America was well received on both continents and later, Bradstreet would re-work some of the poems, even adding a tribute to her father. It is interesting to note that in those times introductions to Bradstreet's poetry included the caveat that she had not neglected her duties as wife, or mother, to write her poetry. In his introduction, Woodbridge says, "these Poems are the fruit but of some few houres, curtailed from her sleep." Another person to comment favorably on her work was the politically influential Puritan minister and author, Cotton Mather, who had the dubious distinction in colonial times of being a persecutor of witches during the Salem Witch Trials.

Her own personal library of books was said to have numbered over 800, many of which were destroyed, along with some of her poetry, when her home burned down on July 10, 1666. This event itself inspired a poem entitled, "Upon the Burning of Our House July 10th, 1666," wherein Bradstreet strives to reconcile her faith in an all-powerful God with the tragedy that has befallen her.

Bradstreet died in 1672, in Andover, Massachusetts. While the precise location of her grave is uncertain, she may have been buried next to her husband in "the Old Burying Point" in Salem, Massachusetts, or in "the Old Burying Ground" on Academy Road in North Andover, Massachusetts.

FamilyEdit

The marriage of Simon and Anne Bradstreet resulted in eight children and a long list of descendants who became illustrious Americans that were dedicated to public service, including: Herbert Hoover, the nation's 31st president, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Supreme Court Justice (1902-1932), William Ellery, a signer of the Declaration of Independence representing Rhode Island, Richard Henry Dana, an abolitionist and a founder of the Anti-Slavery Free party in 1848. Two of their descendants held public office at the beginning of the twenty-first century: Senator John Kerry, the junior United States Senator from Massachusetts (as the Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, he was defeated in the 2004 presidential election by the Republican incumbent, President George W. Bush) and David Souter, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Descendants of Simon Bradstreet and Anne, daughter of Thomas Dudley:

WritingEdit

Bradstreet was highly educated for the time, and her early poetry, although considered formal and somewhat stilted by contemporary critics, displayed her wide grasp of politics, history, medicine, and theology. The book, The Tenth Muse includes an elegy to Elizabeth I in which Bradstreet supports the political and leadership power of women. She drew on the work of Sir Walter Raleigh's History of the World, (1614) for her poetic version of the rise and fall of civilizations in The Four Monarchyes.

Bradstreet was highly educated for the time, and her early poetry, although considered formal and somewhat stilted by contemporary critics, displayed her wide grasp of politics, history, medicine, and theology. The book, The Tenth Muse includes an elegy to Elizabeth I in which Bradstreet supports the political and leadership power of women. She drew on the work of Sir Walter Raleigh's History of the World, 1614, for her poetic version of the rise and fall of civilizations in The Four Monarchyes.

In 1678, after Bradstreet's death, her husband compiled many of her self-revised poems in the book entitled Several Poems Compiled with Great Variety of Wit and Learning. This book carries the distinction of being the first book written by a woman to be published in America. It contains the ever popular and romantic poem, "To My Dear and Loving Husband."[2]

RecognitionEdit

Anne Bradstreet plaque, Harvard University - IMG 8985

Anne Bradstreet plaque, Harvard University. Photo by Daderot, 2010. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Bradstreet won critical acceptance in the 20th century as a writer of enduring verse, particularly for her sequence of religious poems, Contemplations, which was written for her family and not published until the mid-19th century. Many critics consider Contemplations her finest work.[3]

In 1867 John H. Ellis published the complete works of Anne Bradstreet, which included materials from both of her books as well as poems that had been in the possession of her son, Simon Bradstreet.

PublicationsEdit

The Tenth Muse by Anne Bradstreet

PoetryEdit

  • The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America ... (as "a Gentlewoman in those parts"). London: Stephen Bowtell, 1650.
  • Several Poems: Compiled with great variety of wit and learning, full of delight (as "a Gentlewoman in New-England"). Boston: John Foster, 1678.
  • Poems (edited by Robert Hutchinson). New York: Dover, 1969.
  • A Woman's Inner World (edited by Adelaide P. Amore). Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1982.
  • The Poetry of Anne Bradstreet. London: Portable Press, 2014. Volume I: Quaternions, Volume II: Contemplations

Collected editionsEdit

  • The Works: In prose and verse (edited by John Harvard Ellis). Charlestown, MA: Abram E. Cutter, 1867; New York: P. Smith, 1932.
  • The Poems: Together with her prose remains (edited by Frank E. Hopkins; with introduction by Charles Eliot Norton). New York: Duodecimo, 1897.
  • The Tenth Muse (1650) / From the Manuscripts: Meditations divine and morall; together with letters and occasional pieces (edited by Josephine K. Piercy). Gainesville, FL.: Scholars' Facsimiles and Reprints, 1965.
  • The Works (edited by Jeanine Hensley). Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1967.
  • The Complete Works (edited by Joseph R. McElrath, Jr., & Allan P. Robb). Boston: Twayne, 1981.


Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[4]

Poems by Anne BradstreetEdit

The Anne Bradstreet Story03:34

The Anne Bradstreet Story

  1. To My Dear and Loving Husband

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  • Gordon, Charlotte. Mistress Bradstreet: The Untold Life of America's First Poet. Little, Brown and Company, 2005. ISBN 0316169048
  • Wilson, Douglas and George Grant (ed). Beyond Stateliest Marble: The Passionate Femininity of Anne Bradstreet. Highland Books, 2001. ISBN 1581821646
  • Nichols, Heidi L., Anne Bradstreet: A Guided Tour of the Life And Thought of a Puritan Poet. P & R Publishing, 2006. ISBN 0875526101
  • "Anne (Dudley) Bradstreet." Feminist Writers. St. James Press, 1996. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2006.
  • "Anne Dudley Bradstreet." Encyclopedia World Biography, 2nd ed. 17 Vols. Gale Research, 1998. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2006.
  • "Anne Bradstreet." Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography: Colonization to American Renaissance, 1640-1865. Gale Research, 1988. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2006.

NotesEdit

  1. A. Woodlief, Biography of Anne Bradstreet. Retrieved September 1, 2006.
  2. J.H. Ellis, The Works of Anne Bradstreet: In prose and verse, 1867.
  3. The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. Anne (Dudley) Bradstreet. Retrieved September 1.
  4. Search results = au:Anne Bradstreet, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, May 2, 2016.

External LinksEdit

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