When was feminism born—in the 1960s, or in the 1660s? For England, one might answer: the early decades of the seventeenth century. James I was King of England, and women were expected to be chaste, obedient, subordinate, and silent. Some, however, were not, and these are the women who interest Barbara Lewalski—those who, as queens and petitioners, patrons and historians, and poets took up the pen to challenge and subvert the repressive patriarchal ideology of Jacobean England.
Setting out to show how these women wrote themselves into their culture, Lewalski rewrites Renaissance history to include some of its most compelling—and neglected—voices. In these women, Lewalski identifies an early challenge to the dominant culture—and an ongoing challenge to our understanding of the Renaissance world.