Internet Shakespeare Editions


Dorothy Leigh

Dorothy Leigh's occasion for writing her Mother's Blessing was her approaching death. Because of these circumstances, she bypasses the normal prohibitions on female public speech. Usually, a woman would only be able to instruct her own children in her husband's house; however, because she will not be there to instruct her children, she "forgets" the "usual custom of women" by composing a written legacy of (conventional) religious advice. Yet, Leigh makes no pretense that her work is only for her immedieate family, and while her advice is ostensibly aimed primarily at her three sons, it is also an instruction book for all children, as the Mother's Blessing's full title indicates:

The Mother's Blessing, or the Godly Council of a gentlewoman not long since deceased, left behind for her children, containing many good exhortations and godly admonitions, profitable for all parents to leave as a legacy to their children, but especially for those who, by reason of their young years, stand in need of instruction.