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Women Writing Poems

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Women Writing Poems

Shakespeare for Kids

Philip Sidney. Dell’Arcadia della contessa di Pembroch. Venice, 1659

Elizabetha Johanna Westonia. Poems. Prague, 1606?

Poetry was very popular in the 1500s and 1600s. Although men wrote most of the the poetry published in England during this time, a few English women became famous as poets. In France and Italy, women also wrote poetry. In fact, women in Italy began writing and publishing love poems much earlier than women in England! Sometimes, books of poetry that included poems by both men and women were published in Italy.


Lady Mary Sidney became famous as a translater of the Psalms, a series of religious poems in the Bible. She also helped to publish her brother Philip Sidney's masterpiece Arcadia, a sensational story of diguises, kidnappings, and princes and princesses.


Elizabeth Jane Weston began writing poetry as a teenager, including verses in Latin. Although she was born in England, Elizabeth spent most of her life living in Prague, where her stepfather was a scientist and alchemist. Her collections of poetry became famous throughout Europe.


Katherine Philips, a contemporary of the playwright Aphra Behn, was well-known during her lifetime as one of England's leading female poets. Her friends and admirers called her by the nickname "Orinda." 


Aemilia Lanyer wrote and published poetry, and lived in London at the same time as William Shakespeare. In addition to writing poetry, she also ran a school in London.     

  Did you know?

Today, we think of a salon as a place to get our hair cut. But in the 1600s, salons were events where men and women gathered together to talk about art, literature, and society. Guests at salons were expected to be entertaining and witty, and some salons became famous as fashionable places to "be seen."

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