Internet Shakespeare Editions


The advice continues

A farmer's wife taking her wares to market.

With his list of activities only half over, it is perhaps with some sympathy that Fitzherbert interrupts his account by remarking,

It may fortune sometimes that thou shalt have so many things to do that thou shalt not well know where is best to begin.

He continues nonetheless:

It is a wife's occupation to winnow all manner of corn, to make malt, [to] wash and wring, to make hay, to shear [harvest] corn*; and in time of need to help her husband to fill the muck wain* or dung cart, [to] drive the plough, to load hay, corn and such other.

According to other writers on the subject, "Such other" duties might include making candles or caring for bees.

And in conclusion. . .*


  1. Fitzherbert's advice finally comes to an end

    To conclude, our English housewife must be of chaste thought, stout courage, patient, untired, watchful, diligent, witty, pleasant, constant in friendship, full of good neighbourhood, wise in discourse, but not frequent therein, sharp and quick of speech, but not bitter or talkative, secret in her affairs, comfortable in her counsels, and generally skilful in all the worthy knowledges which do belong to her vocation.

  2. A glossary

    • "Corn" here refers to wheat; maize was not known in Elizabethan England.
    • A wain is a cart.