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Lady Mary Chudleigh (August 1656, Devon – 1710) was part of an intellectual circle that included Mary Astell, Elizabeth Thomas, Judith Drake, Elizabeth Elstob, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, and John Norris. [1] In her later years, she published a book of poetry and two books of essays, all dealing with feminist themes; two of her books went through four editions during the last ten years of her life. Her poetry about human relationships and reactions has been antholigized ever since, and her feminist essays are still being reprinted. [2]

Contents

Personal life

Mary, the daughter of Richard Lee, was born in August of 1656, in Winslade in the county of Devon, England. While she, like most women of her time, received little in the way of formal education, she read widely [3] and educated herself in theology, science, and philosophy.[4]

She married Sir George Chudleigh of Ashton, also in Devon. Her biographers argue as to whether their marriage was happy; her references to marriage as a trap that was psychologically stifling for women suggest that she may have had personal experience with an overbearing husband,[5] but on the other hand, he did allow her to publish several feminist works during his lifetime, and her previously-unpublished work was saved carefully by the family after her death. [6]They had at least three children: Eliza Maria, George (later the next Sir George), Thomas, and possibly others. [7]

Little else is known about her life except for the fact that her daughter must have died young, as her grief is mentioned in her letters and some poetry. Lady Mary Chudleigh died in 1710. [8]

Published works

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Individual works

Both essay books were conceived in response to a wedding sermon, The Bride-Woman's Counselor, published by the minister John Sprint in 1700. The sermon makes the point that the wife's only duty is to love, honor, and obey her husband. [9] Chudleigh took this as an example that men's negative expectations of women perpetuated the cycle of ignorance. Believing women were capable of also holding intellectual interests but were inhibited by these low expectations, she asked men why they blamed women for their state of weakness--when that is how men trained women to be. Her essays advocate for increased education for women, and call attention to the psychological abuses that often happened when women, if as totally obedient as Sprint advised, were little more than servants within the family. [10]

The primary subject in her book of poetry is the joys of friendship between women, when that friendship is based on shared morals and shared intellectual pursuits, although there are poems on various other topics.

Collected works

  • The Poems and Prose of Mary, Lady Chudleigh, ed. Margaret J.M. Ezell (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993). [11]

Correspondence

[12]

  • Elizabeth Thomas, Pylades and Corinna (London, 1731).
  • The Poetical Works of Philip Late Duke of Wharton (London, 1731).
  • British Library MSS Stowe 223, f. 398.
  • British Library MSS Stowe 224, f. 1.

Further information

Biographies

  • George Ballard, Memoirs of Several Ladies of Great Britain who have been Celebrated for their Writings or Skill in the Learned Languages, Arts and Sciences, ed. Ruth Perry (Detroit: Wayne State Univ. Press, 1985). [13]

Anthologies

  • Norton Anthology of Literature by Women: The Traditions in English, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, eds.
  • The First Feminists: British Women Writers, Moira Fergusson, ed., (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985). [14]
  • Eighteenth-Century Women Poets: An Oxford Anthology, Roger Lonsdale, ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989). [15]
  • British Literature: An Anthology, Robert DeMaria, Jr., ed. (London: Blackwell, 1996). [16]

References

  1. ^ Sowaal, Alice. "Mary Astell." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (2005) 16 December 2006 <http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/astell/>.
  2. ^ Gilbert, Sandra M. and Susan Gubar. "Lady Mary Chudleigh." The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women: The Traditions in English. New York: W.W. Norton, 1996. 161.
  3. ^ Colman, G. and B. Thornton. Poems by the Most Eminent Ladies of Great Britain and Ireland. London, T. Becket and T. Evans, 1773. 180-181.Mark-up edition © Drury-Kent, Roxanne, ed. Northern Kentucky University, 2003. <http://www.nku.edu/~issues/eminent_ladies/vol1/master_file_vol_1.html#1 81>.
  4. ^ "Lady Mary Chudleigh Biography." Famous Poets and Poems. 16 December 2006 <http://www.famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/lady_mary_chudleigh/biography> .
  5. ^ Gilbert, Sandra M. and Susan Gubar. "Lady Mary Chudleigh." The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women: The Traditions in English. New York: W.W. Norton, 1996. 161.
  6. ^ "Lady Mary Chudleigh Biography." Famous Poets and Poems. 16 December 2006 <http://www.famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/lady_mary_chudleigh/biography> .
  7. ^ Colman, G. and B. Thornton. Poems by the Most Eminent Ladies of Great Britain and Ireland. London, T. Becket and T. Evans, 1773. 180-181. Mark-up edition © Drury-Kent, Roxanne, ed. Northern Kentucky University, 2003. <http://www.nku.edu/~issues/eminent_ladies/vol1/master_file_vol_1.html#1 81>.
  8. ^ Gilbert, Sandra M. and Susan Gubar. "Lady Mary Chudleigh." The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women: The Traditions in English. New York: W.W. Norton, 1996. 161.
  9. ^ Gilbert, Sandra M. and Susan Gubar. "Lady Mary Chudleigh." The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women: The Traditions in English. New York: W.W. Norton, 1996. 161.
  10. ^ "Lady Mary Chudleigh Biography." Famous Poets and Poems. 16 December 2006 <http://www.famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/lady_mary_chudleigh/biography> .
  11. ^ Ezell, Margaret J. M. "Selected Bibliography: Mary, Lady Chudleigh)." c18 Bibliographies On-Line. Ed. Jack Lynch. Rutgers, 1999. 16 December 2006 <http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/C18/biblio/chudleigh.html>.
  12. ^ Ezell, Margaret J. M. "Selected Bibliography: Mary, Lady Chudleigh)." c18 Bibliographies On-Line. Ed. Jack Lynch. Rutgers, 1999. 16 December 2006 <http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/C18/biblio/chudleigh.html>.
  13. ^ Ezell, Margaret J. M. "Selected Bibliography: Mary, Lady Chudleigh)." c18 Bibliographies On-Line. Ed. Jack Lynch. Rutgers, 1999. 16 December 2006 <http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/C18/biblio/chudleigh.html>.
  14. ^ Ezell, Margaret J. M. "Selected Bibliography: Mary, Lady Chudleigh)." c18 Bibliographies On-Line. Ed. Jack Lynch. Rutgers, 1999. 16 December 2006 <http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/C18/biblio/chudleigh.html>.
  15. ^ Ezell, Margaret J. M. "Selected Bibliography: Mary, Lady Chudleigh)." c18 Bibliographies On-Line. Ed. Jack Lynch. Rutgers, 1999. 16 December 2006<http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/C18/biblio/chudleigh.html>.
  16. ^ Ezell, Margaret J. M. "Selected Bibliography: Mary, Lady Chudleigh)." c18 Bibliographies On-Line. Ed. Jack Lynch. Rutgers, 1999. 16 December 2006 <http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/C18/biblio/chudleigh.html>.

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