Margaret Cavendish was everything a stereotypical 17th century woman was not. She was a writer, philosopher, outspoken critic, proto-feminist who "dreaded marriage and only married [her husband] Cavendish because he was a worthy man, full of wit, and respectful towards her." Between 1654 and 1668 she published 14 books, including collections of poetry, drama, fiction, philosophy, and memoir. Her own penchant for publicity can be seen in the byline of her book "The Blazing World," which reads, "By the Thrice Noble, Illustrious, and Excellent PRINCESS, THE Duchess of Newcastle." Despite her own claims at bashfulness and inadequacy, her writing shows her thoughtfulness, wit, and eye for detail. From her royal position, she used her writing to discuss the state of womanhood in the 17th century and to question everything from marriage to natural philosophy. She addressed criticism directly in her work, and appears to have found a balance between her role as mother and wife, and her role as author and philosopher.
Scholars are never good poets, for they incorporate too much into other men, which makes them become less themselves.
Patrick Madden's New Book
Quotidiana site founder Patrick Madden has just published a book of his own personal essays, including pieces formerly published in the Best American Spiritual Writing and Best Creative Nonfiction anthologies.
If you enjoy the classical essays on this site, you'll enjoy these contemporary ruminations as well. Soon there'll be a web page here with further information, but for now, you can find out more (and perhaps purchase a copy) at Amazon.com.
"Patrick Madden is an essayist of verve, passion, wit, and dependable moral compass. Quotidiana drew me in powerfully, from page to page and from pleasure to pleasure." —Ian Frazier
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Quotidiana is an online anthology of "classical" essays, from antiquity to the early twentieth century. All essays and images are in the public domain. Commentaries are copyrighted, but may be used with proper attribution. Special thanks to the BYU College of Humanities and English Department for funding, and to Joey Franklin and Lara Burton, for tireless research assisting.