17th century

Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum: Reflections on Good Friday

Posted on Mar 25, 2016 in 17th century, BLOG, early modern europe, women's history, women's issues | Comments Off

  Aemilia Bassano Lanier (also spelled Lanyer) is the heroine of my new novel The Dark Lady’s Mask.  Born in 1569, she was the highly educated daughter of an Italian court musician—a man thought to have been a Marrano, a secret Jew living under the guise of a Christian convert. She may have also been the mysterious, musical Dark Lady of Shakespeare’s sonnets, although most academic scholars dispute this. What we do know and what really matters is that she was the first English woman to pursue a career as a published poet. In Protestant England, Lanier effectively had only one option—to...

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Shakespeare’s Sisters—A Celebration of Renaissance Women Writers

Posted on Mar 8, 2016 in 17th century, renaissance, women's history | Comments Off

April 23, 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death with worldwide celebrations to mark his legacy. But what about the women? In her essay A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf imagines the life of Shakespeare’s brilliant sister Judith, barred from the grammar school because of her sex and forced to hide her writing from her family. To escape a forced, arranged marriage, she runs away to London to seek her fortune in the theatre, only to end up pregnant, abandoned, and destitute. Out of despair, she kills herself. “It would have been impossible, completely and entirely...

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Lammas-tide and Harvest Home

Posted on Aug 1, 2010 in 17th century, harvest, lammas, ritual year, robert herrick | Comments Off

Lammas-tide and Harvest Home

August 1 marks the beginning of the grain harvest in Britain, a period of intense labour and also celebration. In our age of convenience foods perhaps it’s hard to imagine how important the harvest was in centuries past. The harvest could be poor, or fail entirely. If a community suffered two bad harvests in a row, entire families would starve. The word “Lammas” derives from the Anglo-Saxon “hlaef-mass” or loaf mass. The first grain of the year would be reaped and then baked into a bread, which was consecrated in the church upon the first Sunday of August. A...

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