The title-page of Urania proclaims its literary credentials: it is ‘Written by the right honorable the Lady Mary Wroath. Daughter to the right Noble Robert Earle of Leicester. And Neece to the ever famous, and renowned Sr Phillips Sidney knight.’ Barbara Kiefer Lewalski suggests some of the ways in which Wroth responds to her uncle’s work: ‘the interspersed songs and complaint poems assigned to characters at moments of special emotional crisis; the eclogues ending book one; the opening locus amoenus passage; the first episode focusing on a shepherdess, Urania;…a knight [Leonius] who cross-dresses as a nymph to woo a shepherdess [Veralinda]; the counterfeit death of a captive lady staged to deceive her lover’ (Barbara Kiefer Lewalski, Writing Women in Jacobean England, Cambridge, Mass., 1993, p. 264). Two of these examples are given in part below. The first, in comparison with the opening of the revised Arcadia, illustrates the extent to which female characters and viewpoints are emphasized by Wroth (see further Introduction, p. 23; Urania ‘begins with generic allusion to, and reversal of, the opening of Sidney’s Arcadia, where two shepherds lament the absence of their beloved Urania; here Urania is present but absent to herself’ (ibid., p. 274). The second extract draws loosely on the apparent executions of Pamela and Philoclea (NA, pp. 425ff.).
The Countess of Montgomery of the title is Wroth’s friend Susan Herbert.