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Notable Women: Anne Bradstreet

Anne Bradstreet

Today, September 16th, is the anniversary of the death of Anne Bradstreet. She passed away in Andover, Massachusetts, at the age of 60, having lost a child to tuberculosis while suffering from the disease as well; it was to be her final illness. Bradstreet was the first female poet to have work published in the Colonies. Although her work was praised on both sides of the Atlantic, most biographers agree that her initial intent was most likely to write only for herself, family and close friends. Indeed, being an outspoken woman was a dangerous thing in the Colonies–Bradstreet’s close friend (and intellectual equal) Anne Hutchinson was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for publicly voicing religious views. 

Although much of Bradstreet’s work is about her deep love for God and her family, her mature work is considered by many to be the earliest American expression of feminist thought. It’s no wonder that Bradstreet was a strong woman: she survived the Atlantic crossing; smallpox and its life-long debilitating rheumatic effects; a house fire which ravaged her beloved home, and the demands of managing a bustling household due to her oft-absent husband, Simon.  Her voice still rings as a model for New England resiliency and wit. Let’s remember Anne with a line from her later poetry, in which she revealed her opinion of those who’d limit her to domestic chores. Let’s be glad that she picked up pen as well as needle!

I am obnoxious to each carping tongue
Who says my hand a needle better fits

About The Author: Andrea DeFusco-Sullivan is the Assistant Dean and Director of the Writing Program at The American College of History and Legal Studies.

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