A maidservant in a wealthy London household, Isabella Whitney was the first female writer to publish secular poetry in English. One of Europe's first professional female writers, she published two volumes of poetry in the sixteenth century, a time when less than 5% of women could read or write. In her most famous poem, "Will and Testament," she fires back at her critics, ironically bequeathing London to itself and defining her style as biting and critical, but belaying a kinship with the vibrant city she describes in lavish detail. Fox discusses how Whitney offers us a rare look at everyday life for a woman writer when there really was no such thing.
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ABOUT THE PRESENTER CORA FOX works on English and continental Renaissance poetry and drama, classical intertextuality (and specifically imitations of Ovid's Metamorphoses), the history of emotion, and sexuality and gender studies. She is the author of Ovid and the Politics of Emotion in Elizabethan England and the co-editor of Approaches to Teaching the Works of Ovid and the Ovidian Tradition. Professor Fox has published essays on Spenser, Ovid, Reginald Scot, and Isabella Whitney. Her current book project is tentatively titled Shakespeare and the History of Happiness.
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