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Anne Bradstreet


Anne Bradstreet (c. 1612 ‚Äď September 16, 1672) was an English-American writer, the first notable American poet, and the first woman to be published in Colonial America. Her work was very influential to Puritans in her time.

Biography

Bradstreet was born Anne Dudley in Northamptonmarker, Englandmarker, 1612. She was the daughter of Thomas Dudley, a steward of the Earl of Lincoln, and Dorothy Yorke. Due to her family's position she grew up in cultured circumstances and was a well-educated woman for her time, being tutored in history, several languages, and literature. At the age of sixteen she married Simon Bradstreet. Both Anne's father and husband were later to serve as governors of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Anne and Simon, along with Anne's parents, immigrated to America aboard the Arbella as part of the Winthrop Fleet of Puritan emigrants in 1630.

Despite poor health, she had eight children and achieved a comfortable social standing. Having previously been afflicted with smallpox, Anne would once again fall prey to illness as paralysis took over her joints.

On July 10, 1666, the Bradstreet home burned down in a fire that left the family homeless and without personal belongings for a time. By then, Anne Bradstreet's health was slowly failing. She suffered from tuberculosis and had to deal with the loss of her daughter Dorothy to illness as well, losing her son shortly afterwards. But her will remained strong, and perhaps, as a reflection of her religious devotion and her knowledge of Biblical scriptures, she found peace in the firm belief that her daughter was in heaven.

Anne Bradstreet died on September 16, 1672, in Andover, Massachusettsmarker, at the age of 60. The precise location of her grave is uncertain as she may either have been buried next to her husband in "the Old Burying Point" in Salem, Massachusettsmarker, or in "the Old Burying Ground" on Academy Road in North Andover, Massachusettsmarker.

Works

Bradstreet's education allowed her to write with authority about politics, history, medicine, and theology. Her personal library of books was said to have numbered over 800, before many were destroyed when her home burned down. This event itself inspired a poem entitled "Upon the Burning of Our House July 10th, 1666". She rejects the anger and grief that this worldly tragedy has caused her and instead looks toward God and the assurance of heaven as consolation, saying:
"And when I could no longer look,
I blest his grace that gave and took,
That laid my goods now in the dust.
Yea, so it was, and so 'twas just.
It was his own; it was not mine.
Far be it that I should repine."


Title page, second (posthumous) edition of Bradstreet's poems, 1678


Much of Bradstreet's poetry is based on observation of the world around her, focusing heavily on domestic and religious themes. Long considered primarily of historical interest, she 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. Bradstreet's work was deeply influenced by the poet Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas, who was favored by 17th-century readers.

Nearly a century later, Martha Wadsworth Brewster, a notable 18th-century American poet and writer, in her principal work, Poems on Diverse Subjects, was influenced and pays homage to Bradstreet's verse.

Despite the traditional attitude toward women of the time, she clearly valued knowledge and intellect; she was a free thinker and some consider her an early feminist.

In 1647 Bradstreet's brother-in-law, Rev. John Woodbridge, sailed to England, carrying her manuscript of poetry without her knowledge. Anne's first work was published in London as "The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up into America, by a Gentlewoman in such Parts".

The purpose of the publication appears to have been an attempt by devout Puritan men (i.e. Thomas Dudley, Simon Bradstreet, John Woodbridge) to show that a godly and educated woman could elevate the position held by a wife and mother, without necessarily placing her in competition with men.

In 1678 her self-revised "Several Poems Compiled with Great Variety of Wit and Learning" was posthumously published in America, and included one of her most famous poems, "To My Dear and Loving Husband".

A quotation from Bradstreet can be found on a plaque at the Bradstreet Gate into Harvard Yardmarker: "I came into this Country, where I found a new World and new manners at which my heart rose."
Unfortunately the plaque seems to be based on a misinterpretation of the text; the following sentence is "But after I was convinced it was the way of God, I submitted to it and joined to the church at Boston." This suggests that her heart rose up in protest rather than in joy.


Descendants

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

Works



References

  1. Woodlief, A. (n.d.). Biography of Anne Bradstreet. Retrieved September 1, 2006.
  2. n. a. (2000). Anne (Dudley) Bradstreet. The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. Retrieved Septermber 1, 2006.
  3. Woodlief, A. (n.d.). Biography of Anne Bradstreet. Retrieved September 1, 2006.
  4. Ellis, J. H. (1867). The Works of Anne Bradstreet in Prose and Verse.
  5. http://www.hno.harvard.edu/guide/to_do/to_do9.html
  6. http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/eng384/bradbio.htm
  7. William Addams Reitwiesner Genealogical Services.
  8. New England Ancestors.


External links




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