Anne Bradstreet: Wikis


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Anne Bradstreet

Anne Bradstreet (c. 1612 – 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.



Bradstreet was born Anne Dudley in Northampton, England, 1612. She was the daughter of Thomas Dudley, a steward of the Earl of Lincoln, and Dorothy Yorke.[1] 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.[2]

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 North Andover, Massachusetts at the age of 60. North Andover is the original Andover Parish founded by the the Stevens, Barker and Bradstreet families plus others in the 1640s. The precise location of Anne's grave is uncertain as she may either 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.

A marker in the North Andover cemetery commemorates the 350th anniversary (2000) of the publishing of the poetry of Anne Dudley Bradstreet in London in 1650. This may be the only site honoring her memory in America. Her words and work have been hidden within the shadows of history for close to 400 years.

Four years after the death of Anne in 1672, Simon Bradstreet married for a second time to a lady also named Anne. Simon died in Salem in 1697.


Bradstreet's education gave her advantages 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.[3] 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. However, based on her poems, she could also be considered to be a complimentarian.

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 in America, by a Gentlewoman of those Parts".[2] [4]

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".[5]

A quotation from Bradstreet can be found on a plaque at the Bradstreet Gate into Harvard Yard: "I came into this Country, where I found a new World and new manners at which my heart rose." [6] 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[7] rather than in joy.


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

List of works


  1. ^ "Anne Bradstreet biography". Retrieved 2007-01-25. 
  2. ^ a b Woodlief, A. (n.d.). Biography of Anne Bradstreet. Retrieved September 1, 2006.
  3. ^ n. a. (2000). Anne (Dudley) Bradstreet. The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. Retrieved Septermber 1, 2006.
  4. ^ White, Elizabeth Wade (1971). Anne Bradstreet, "the Tenth Muse.". New York: Oxford University Press. p. 255–6. ISBN 9780195014402. 
  5. ^ Ellis, J. H. (1867). The Works of Anne Bradstreet in Prose and Verse.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i William Addams Reitwiesner Genealogical Services.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h New England Ancestors.

External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Anne Bradstreet (ca. 1612 – September 16, 1672) was the first published American woman writer.


  • If for thy Father askt, say, thou hadst none;
    And for thy Mother, she alas is poor,
    Which caus'd her thus to send thee out of door.
    • The Author to Her Book
  • What to my Saviour shall I give
    Who freely hath done this for me?
    I'll serve him here whilst I shall live
    And Loue him to Eternity
    • By Night when Others Soundly Slept
  • A Spring returns, and they more youthful made;
    But Man grows old, lies down, remains where once he's laid.
    • Contemplations
  • "Sister," quoth Flesh, "what liv'st thou on
    Nothing but Meditation?
    • The Flesh and the Spirit
  • Such cold mean flowers the spring puts forth betime,
    Before the sun hath thoroughly heat the clime.
    • Of the Four Ages of Man
  • Leave not thy nest, thy dam and sire,
    Fly back and sing amidst this choir.
    • In Reference to her Children, 23 June 1659
  • If ever two were one, then surely we.
    If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;
    If ever wife was happy in a man,
    Compare with me ye women if you can.
    • To my Dear and Loving Husband
  • The principal might yield a greater sum,
    Yet handled ill, amounts but to this crumb;
    • To Her Father with Some Verses

Meditations Divine and Moral (1664)

  • Youth is the time of getting, middle age of improving, and old age of spending.
    • 3
  • Authority without wisdom is like a heavy axe without an edge, fitter to bruise than polish.
    • 12
  • If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.
    • 14

External links

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