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Welcome to this third and final installment in my Guest Series on new editions of 17th-century women writers. This last essay discusses an extraordinary figure whose writings are a rich weave of interests, from feminism, politics, and education, to astronomy, astrology, and cosmography. This is none other than the remarkable Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (c1623-1673), a writer of many qualities who took English literature to a whole new level. She owned a telescope. She collected optical lenses. She designed her own haut coutoure. Her visit to the new London Royal Society in 1667 was a sensation. Confident in her abilities and certain of “a glorious Fame”, she published under her own name and her record of publication (plays, poetry, essays, letters, prose fiction, autobiography) was substantial. She described her manuscripts as “paper Bodies”, living things creating “a great Blazing Light” after her death. (An expanding cohort of advocates would say: Yea, she was right!) Her masterpiece and signature work is an astonishing futuristic text, The Blazing-World (London, 1666, 1668), considered the first-ever science fiction novel written and published by a woman writer. It is now available in a new edition for 21st-century readers, prepared by Sara H. Mendelson, a respected scholar on Cavendish and a former president of the Margaret Cavendish Society. Fasten your seatbelts, Duchess Margaret will take you right out of this world. < Click here for essay
THE BOOK OF HESTER
EDITING AN UNCANONICAL TEXT
LADY HESTER PULTER: Brotherton MS Lt q32, Leeds UK
By Maureen E. Mulvihill, Princeton Research Forum, NJ
Read the complete essay here.
Read Maureen E. Mulvihill’s essay here.