Philip's Phoenix
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Philip's Phoenix : Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke

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Although previous studies have portrayed Mary Sidney as a demure, retiring woman, Hannay, basing her work on primary sources (account books, legal documents, diaries, family letters), has discovered that she was brilliant, learned, witty, articulate, and adept at self-presentation. Married to the wealthy Earl of Pembroke, she ruled over her little court at Wilton just as Elizabeth ruled in London. Her wisdom, poetry, and scholarship were extravagantly praised by those who sought to gain her favour. When Philip, her older brother, died fighting for the Protestant cause, she moved to London to take up his literary activities, publishing his writings, writing and translating works of which he would have approved, assuming his role as literary patron and supporting the Protestant cause for which he died. All the literary work for which she is celebrated took place between her return to London in 1588 and her husband's death in 1601. While previous biographers contended that her widowhood was quiet and uneventful, Hannay shows, via court cases, that her final years were colourful indeed, as, administering the properties she retained, she contended with jewel thieves, pirates, and murderers, finally bringing them to trial after complex legal and political manoeuvres.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 336 pages
  • 158 x 232 x 30mm | 699.99g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 6 halftones, 1 chart
  • 0195057791
  • 9780195057799
  • 2,002,728

Review quote

'this book is manifestly a labour of love ... Anyone interested in the Sidney's will find here the fruits of long research arrayed in a handsome narrative form.' The Heythrop Journal, April 1993, Volume 34, Number 2 'This well-researched and readable study of the life and literary pursuits of Sir Philip Sidney's talented sister, Mary, Countess of Pembroke, will undoubtedly be regarded as the definitive biography for many years to come. In both biographical and literary matters, Margaret Hannay's eye for telling detail is meticulous and her scholarship always thorough ... the detailed notes and extensive bibliography at the end of this volume will offer a useful starting-point for other scholars investigating what is clearly now one of the major growth areas of Renaissance criticism: the role of the women - as writer, patron, and friend - in the flourishing of English literature between 1550 and 1650.' Michael G. Brennan, University of Leeds, Review of English Studies 'a fine biography ... Fluently written, based on a wide and sound scholarship, this is a very useful book.' English Studies, Volume 72, Number 6, December 1991 `This important biography of a leading early modern woman writer will be an extremely useful resource: it is packed with detail, and includes five previously unknown and unpublished letters by the Countess of Pembroke ... a highly impressive work of scholarship.' Notes and Queries 'the book will be an invaluable resource for scholars for some years to come' Times Literary Supplementshow more

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