Katherine Fowler Philips (1632–1664)
Richard Barnfield (b. 1574) and
William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
Many of the poems of Katherine Philips (1632–1664) celebrate female friendship, and critics debate their possibly lesbian cast. The earliest of these attachments, a friendship with Mary Aubrey, a cousin of John Aubrey whom Philips styled “Rosania,” began in Philips's schooldays, cooled after Aubrey's marriage to Sir William Montagu in 1652, but was taken up again before Philips's death. Another was that with Anne Lewis Owen of Orielton (“Lucasia”), who lived in Llandshipping, about twenty-five miles from Philips's home in Cardigan, Wales. It was during an extended visit with Lucasia in Dublin, after Owen's remarriage in 1662, that Philips's translation of Corneille's Pompée was translated and produced on stage as Pompey. Members of the “Sacred Society of Friendship” all bore pseudonyms: Philips was “Orinda.” Others in the circle included Sir Charles Cotterell, later Philips's literary executor, or “Poliarchus”; Francis Finch (“Palaemon”); and Sir Edward Dering (“Silvander”). In the poems below, “Antenor” is Philips's husband and the “C. P.” whose marriage is celebrated is Philips's sister-in-law, Cicely Philips. We have relied on the edition by Patrick Thomas (Stump Cross Books, 1982). Elizabeth Hageman and Andrea Sununu are preparing an edition for Oxford University Press.