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Case 1 - The Clifford Women:

Patrons, Readers, and Writers

Lady Anne Clifford (1590–1676) was a great reader and a powerful noblewoman who spent much of her life trying to recoup the large properties that she was prevented from inheriting as a woman. She was aided by her mother, Margaret Clifford, countess of Cumberland (1560–1616). This pious and intelligent woman encouraged her daughter’s education by hiring the poet and historian Samuel Daniel as Lady Anne’s tutor. She also gave support and encouragement to Aemilia Lanyer, one of England’s first published women poets. Lanyer remembers her happy time with the Clifford women at the country estate of Cookham, “where many a learned Booke was read and skand.” Lady Anne kept a detailed diary through much of her life, and collected a large library.

Aemilia Lanyer. Salve Deus Rex Judæorum. London, 1611

Aemilia Lanyer. Salve Deus Rex Judæorum. London, 1611

Samuel Daniel. Poems. London, 1623

John Selden. Titles of Honor. London, 1631


The collection of items in Case 1 contains works with dedicatory poems to both Clifford women, as well as a book owned and read by Lady Anne.


Aemilia Lanyer's Salve Deus Rex Judæorum is dedicated to a group of women who supported writers, which included both Lady Anne and her mother, Margaret Clifford; Lucy, countess of Bedford; and Mary Sidney, countess of Pembroke, herself a poet. The central portion of Aemilia Lanyer’s work “Hail God King of the Jews,” is a religious poem in which she comments on Christ’s passion from a woman’s point of view, focusing on Pilate’s wife and on a defense of Eve. This was a bold move on Lanyer’s part, since women were not encouraged to interpret scripture at all. Lanyer also included a poem at the end titled “The Description of Cooke-ham,” an early country-house poem telling of her days at the Clifford estate.


Samuel Daniel’s moralistic poem to his student, Lady Anne Clifford, praises her innocent virtue and says that her mother who gave her being, also
… labour[s] to adorne
That better part, the mansion of your minde,
With all the richest furniture of worth,
To make y’as highly good as highly borne.

Daniel probably began tutoring Lady Anne by the time she was eight or nine, and she included his portrait in the “Great Picture” of her family which she later commissioned.


Also shown is Lady Anne's own copy of John Selden’s Titles of Honor, on which she wrote “I began, to overlook this Book the 18 of February and I did make an end of reading, or over looking it all over the first of March following 1638.” The book interested her because it deals with the inheritance of land and titles. She spent much of her life collecting ancient documents to prove her right to inherit her mother’s property in the north of England. In the process she became the first great female antiquarian.

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