Born In: Northampton, England
Anne Bradstreet was a 17th-century poet who became the first woman poet to be recognized as an accomplished New World Poet. She was one of the earliest writers to compose in the English language in the North American colonies. Born into a Puritan family in England, she had a privileged upbringing. Even though she received little formal education, she had access to a vast library as a young girl and became a voracious reader. She got married as a teenager and soon moved to North America with her family. She began writing and publishing poems while raising a large family. Owing to her family circumstances, she was well-versed in politics, history, and theology and wrote extensively on these topics. Her poems often reflected her observations of the world around her; religion and family were recurring themes in her works. She was prolific in her literary output and composed several epic poems. She was deeply influenced by the works of poet Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas. She was a free thinker and is considered to be an early feminist by some critics. She initially received criticism as writing was not considered a respectable occupation for women of her era. She eventually came to be recognized as a celebrated figure in American literature.
Died At Age: 60
Spouse/Ex-: Simon Bradstreet
father: Thomas Dudley
mother: Dorothy Yorke
siblings: Deborah Dudley Wade, Joseph Dudley, Mercy Dudley Woodbridge, Patience Dudley Denison, Paul Dudley, Samuel Dudley, Sarah Dudley Keayne, Thomas Dudley
children: Dudley Bradstreet, Hannah Ann Wiggin, John Bradstreet, Samuel Bradstreet, Simon Bradstreet
Born Country: England
place of death: North Andover, Massachusetts, United States
City: Northampton, England
Anne Dudley was born on March 20, 1612, in Northampton, England, to Thomas Dudley and Dorothy Yorke. Her father was a steward of the Earl of Lincoln.
Her family was wealthy and cultured. While she was never sent to a formal school, her father ensured she was tutored at home in languages, literature, and history. She was a well-educated young woman for her time.
She had access to a large library and was a voracious reader. She read the works of Virgil, Plutarch, Livy, Thucydides, Hesiod, Ovid, Pliny, Sidney, Milton, Raleigh, Suetonius, Homer, Seneca, and Spenser among others.
Like most young women of her era, Anne Dudley got married as a teenager. When she was 16, she wed Simon Bradstreet, a businessman and diplomat.
Both her father and husband were appointed to serve as governors of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and the entire family emigrated to America aboard the Arbella in 1630. They were accompanied by many other Puritan immigrants.
The family first reached Pioneer Village (Salem, Massachusetts) and then moved to Charlestown for a brief stay before traveling to Boston. In the ensuing years, the family would move often, before finally settling in North Andover, Massachusetts.
Anne Bradstreet initially had a difficult time adjusting to her new life in America that was unlike the comfortable one she was accustomed to in England. Still, as a woman with traditional Puritan values, she considered it her duty to accompany her husband wherever he went.
She gave birth to her first child in the early 1630s and went on to have seven more children. She spent the ensuing years devoting herself to the responsibilities of being a wife and a mother. She also began writing poetry during this time.
Anne Bradstreet probably started writing poetry in the 1630s. She was a well-educated woman with considerable knowledge in history, politics, medicine, and theology and this gave her the confidence to write about varied topics.
As a woman, she was expected to downplay her ambitions and did not intend to get her work published. However, her brother-in-law ensured that her poems got published. He also took a copy of her poems to England and got it published there as well, making her the first woman poet to be published in both the New World and England.
Despite raising a large family and having a demanding domestic life, she devoted considerable time to writing and composed at least four quaternions, epic poems of four parts each. They were titled Seasons, Elements, Humours, and Ages.
Her life was full of hardships, but she often wrote with a hopeful and positive tone. Her poems reflected her Puritan beliefs. As a family woman, she dedicated many of her poems to her husband, children, and other family members.
She did not adhere to the Puritan belief that women were inferior to men. In her poems, she questioned society’s expectation that women should devote themselves to taking care of their husband and children’s needs while ignoring their own.
Anne Bradstreet’s first book of poetry, The Tenth Muse, lately Sprung up in America, was published in 1650. Some poems in this collection, especially the Four Monarchies, are regarded to be “epic” by critics.
Verses upon the Burning of our House is a poignant poem in which she describes the traumatic loss of her home and most of her belongings in a fire. She expresses her belief that her house burned down to motivate her to let go of her attachment to materialist possessions.
Anne married Simon Bradstreet, a businessman turned diplomat, when she was 16. From her poems, it appears that she had a deep love for her husband and was devoted to him. The couple had eight children. As a Puritan woman, she took great pride in being a mother.
She suffered from ill health and was often worried about dying young. She lived to be 60 and suffered from tuberculosis towards the end of her life. She died on September 16, 1672.
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