Isabella Whitney Poems

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Isabella Whitney
Isabella Whitney (b. 1540) is the earliest identified woman to have published secular poetry in the English language. Most of what we "know" of Isabella Whitney's life is based on speculation from her poetry, which was often addressed to family members, and letters included in A Sweet Nosgay. Her brother, Geoffrey Whitney, was an emblem book writer in London, and she had at least four other siblings. She was born in Cheshire, probably from a middle class background (she was literate at a time when the working class, and especially women, were not educated). However in London she worked as a servant - as a lady's companion to an upper-class or aristocratic family. Unfortunately she lost this position, possibly through slander and gossip against her (she writes of ill health and 'malice' in a letter to a friend). Illness kept her indoors, and she began to write. Isabella Whitney wrote out of financial necessity, and published two short collections of poems: The copy of a letter lately written in meeter, by a yonge Gentilwoman: to her unconstant lover (1567), and A Sweet Nosgay, Or Pleasant Posye: contayning a hundred and ten Phylosophicall Flowers (1573). Both were printed in the form of cheap pamphlets by the London printer Richard Jones.

for soldiers
Ye buds of Brutus land, courageous youths, now play your parts!
Unto your tackle stand, abide t... [read poem]
will and testament
The Aucthour (though loth to leave the Citie)
vpon her Friendes procurement, is constrained... [read poem]
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