Chudleigh, Lady Mary

Chudleigh, Lady Mary
   An early feminist who was inspired by Mary Astell (see entry), often referred to as "the first English feminist." From Devonshire, she married Sir George Chudleigh but the marriage was not happy. She found pleasure in reading and writing poetry, and was one of the women who formed part of the literary circle centered around Dryden. She corresponded with Mary Astell, and her poem, "The Ladies' Defence" (1701), according to The Oxford Companion to English Literature, was in response to Astell's poem "Some Reflections on Marriage." The Dictionary of National Biography says that it was a response "to a sermon on 'Conjugal Duty' preached by Mr. Sprint." In her poem "To the Ladies," she draws attention to the status of the "wife," who differs from a servant only in name. It refers to her marriage ceremony as a "fatal knot" and says the word "obey" makes the man supreme. Her other publications are: Poems on Several Occasions, 1703. Essays upon several Subjects, 1710. Poems, 1713 and 1722 (posthumous editions). Some of her other poems: "Solitude," "The Offering: Part One," "The Resolve," "The Wish," "To Almystrea."
   Sources: Biography of Mary Lee Chudleigh; Sunshine for Women (, Lady Marysunshine/march99/chudle.html). Dictionary of National Biography. Electronic Edition, 1.1. Oxford University Press, 1997. English Poetry: Author Search. Chadwyck-Healey Ltd., 1995 ( Poemhunter ( The Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry. 11th ed. The Columbia Granger's World of Poetry, Columbia University Press, 2005 ( The Oxford Companion to English Literature. 6th edition. Margaret Drabble, ed. Oxford University Press, 2000. The Poems and Prose of Mary, Lady Chudleigh. Margaret J.M. Ezell, ed. Oxford University Press, 1993.

British and Irish poets. A biographical dictionary. . 2015.

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