Internet Shakespeare Editions


Mary Wroth

Mary Wroth, née Sidney, was the niece of Sir Philip Sidney, one of the most celebrated poets in Elizabethan England. This prestigious literary lineage, however, was a mixed blessing for Wroth, for working in the shadow of her famous Uncle meant that she was often judged in light of his legacy. It is also true that her status as a Sidney also helped her to overcome prejudices about female poets and to gain a public readership.

Wroth chose to continue her family's literary tradition by writing in genres previously used by her uncle (pastoral romance, the sonnet, and pastoral drama, for example). Nevertheless, Wroth's use of genre does not mean that she merely imitates earlier works, rather she often reformulates each genre from a female perspective:

Juno still jealous of her husband Jove,
Descended from above, on earth to try,
Whether she there could find his chosen Love,
Which made him from the Heav'ns so often flye.

Close by the place where I for shade did lye,
She chasing came, but when she saw me move,
Have you not seene this way (said she) to hye
One, in whom vertue never grownde did prove?

Hee, in whom Love doth breed, to stirre more hate,
Courting a wanton Nimph for his delight;
His name is Jupiter, my Lord, by Fate,
Who for her, leaves Me, Heaven, his throne, and light.

I saw him not (said I) although heere are
Many, in whose hearts, Love hath made like warre.

The Luminarium page devoted to Lady Mary Wroth. Mary Wroth's Pamphilia to Amphilanthus is on line at the Renascence Editions.