Women in Early Modern England, 1550-1720

Women in Early Modern England, 1550-1720

Women in Early Modern England, 1550-1720

Women in Early Modern England, 1550-1720


This is an original, accessible, and comprehensive survey of life as it was experienced by most Englishwomen during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The authors examine virtually all aspects of women's lives: female life-stages from birth to death; the separate culture of women, including female friendship and feminist consciousness; the diverse roles of women in the religious and political movements of the day; and the effect of prevailing perceptions of gender differences. Comparisons are made between the makeshift economy of poor women and the occupational identities, and preoccupations, of the middling and elite classes. This fascinating and well-illustrated book reconstructs the mental and material world of Tudor and Stuart women. It will become the standard text on the subject.


Many people have asked us how we came to collaborate on a book, and how we have managed our joint labours. The answer to the first of these questions is that we decided (one afternoon in Oxford in 1982) that it would be a good idea to write a book together. One of us immediately produced a rough outline. We then began to work, and soon found that we had embarked on a larger project than we initially envisaged because there was so little secondary source material to draw upon. We realized that we would be engaged in archival research on many subjects which interested us. Fifteen years later, we have come to what we feel is a reasonable stopping-place.

As to how we have managed our collaboration, we have shared ALL the work that went into the making of the book. We drew up lists of archival sources, apportioned research tasks between the two of us, and exchanged notes and transcriptions. In similar fashion we divided the book into sections and were each allotted our share of the writing. We have exchanged ideas and drafts and revisions by every means of communication known to woman. We have carried on daily conversations by email, and at intervals we were able to meet on the same continent--whether in Australia, England, or North America--where we have enjoyed the hospitality of each other's family and friends.

Looking at our final script, we can no longer determine which of us was first to have a particular idea or to write a particular phrase, nor do we wish to parcel out credit or blame between the two of us. It has truly been a shared project, and as a symbolic expression of our indistinguishable roles--since we cannot superimpose our names on precisely the same spot--we have subverted the hierarchy of the alphabet on the title-page.

For others who might plan on collaboration, we offer useful advice which we received as messages in fortune-cookies (consumed at some of our innumerable shared meals): 'Friendship will be the secret of your success'; 'Retain your sense of humour'; and finally, 'Nothing is impossible for your willing heart'.

P. C. and S. M.

Perth, Western Australia, and Hamilton, Ontario, Canada March 1997 . . .

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