Female and Male Voices in Early Modern England: An Anthology of Renaissance Writing

By Betty S. Travitsky; Anne Lake Prescott | Go to book overview

25
Mary White Rowlandson (c. 1635–after 1677)
Thomas Hariot (1560–1621),
Michael Drayton (1563–1631), and
Robert Hayman (1575–1629)

Mary White Rowlandson

Born to wealthy parents in Salem, England, Mary Rowlandson (c. 1635–after 1677) married Joseph Rowlandson, minister of Lancaster, Massachusetts, in 1656 and emigrated to the colonies in 1673. In February 1675, during King Philip's War and while her husband was out of town, the Narragansetts captured her, her children, and some others. Many settlers were killed during this raid. Rowlandson's youngest child, six years old, died soon after; the rest of the family was separated. She and a son were ransomed after eleven weeks; a daughter made her way to freedom.

Rowlandson's account of her captivity, which the preface (perhaps by Increase Mather) calls “a memorandum of God's dealing with her” was published—at the insistence of others—so that “God might have his due glory, and others benefit by it as well as herself.” Rowlandson's physical endurance and emotional strength are remarkable. Early in her captivity, one of the Indians gave her a Bible; her citation of apt passages to comfort herself is one of her story's fascinations, as are the objectivity with which she discusses her reactions to Indian fare and the calm with which she describes barbarities. Also noteworthy— if perhaps understandable—is her sharp distinction between kindnesses shown her and her family by the settlers who rescued her (for which she expresses great appreciation) and those shown her by many Indians (for which, although they

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