Many would find it difficult to name a woman writer in England before Jane Austen, even though women were writing as early as the time of Chaucer. It was during the seventeenth century, however, that women writers ceased to be viewed as odd or remarkable and became accepted as regular and often respected members of the literary world. The enormous commercial and artistic success of Aphra Behn's plays on the London stage of the 1670s and '80s marked the end of the time where only men were literary luminaries. Major Women Writers of Seventeenth-Century England brings together in one volume a rich assortment of writing by the women Behn influenced, as well as those who preceded her. Collected are works by Aphra Behn, Elizabeth Cary, Margaret Cavendish, Anne Finch, Aemelia Lanyer, Katherine Philips, Ester Sowernam, Rachel Speght, and Mary Wroth.
The texts included are newly edited and rely on the best manuscripts and editions of the time. They are accompanied by clear introductions, helpful explanatory notes, and a range of illustrations from the period. The book will appeal to all those with an interest in the rich literary record of the period.
Editors: James Fitzmaurice, Northern Arizona University; Josephine A. Roberts, Louisiana State University; Carol L. Barash, Seton Hall University; Eugene R. Cunnar, New Mexico State University; and Nancy A. Gutierrez, Arizona State University.