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BRADSTREET, Anne

Born: 1612 or 1613, in Northamptonshire, England

Died: September 16, 1672, in Andover, Massachusetts, British North America (now United States)

Anne Bradstreet was one of the first poets to write English verse in the American colonies. Her work exemplifies life in the seventeenth century, and demonstrates Puritan influences, although her journals state that she was ambivalent to the church. The themes of her work are typically family -oriented, such as To My Dear And Loving Husband.

Bradstreet's father, Thomas Dudley, was a chief steward for the Puritan earl of Lincoln. Her mother was Dorothy Yorke. Tutored by her father, Bradstreet was allowed to read books in the earl's library, which provided for her an exposure to authors such as Ovid, Plutarch and Milton. As a child, one of her favorite books was Raleigh's History of the World.

At the age of sixteen, she married Simon Bradstreet, another member of the court of the earl of Lincoln. They remained faithful to each other until her death. Two years after their marriage, the couple sailed for the American colonies with other Puritans. Bradstreet did not take well to the pioneer life, initiated into it by sickness and a lack of supplies.

Simon Bradstreet later became governor of the colony. The couple lived in Ipswitch 1635-1645 and North Andover 1645-1672, Massachusetts. While depicted as a dedicated homemaker with eight children, she asserted in her poetry the right of women to be educated and have free expression of thought.

Without her knowledge, her brother-in-law published a collection of her poems, entitled The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America in 1650. It is believed that King George III had this collection in his library. The book's preface is careful to assert that Bradstreet was a virtuous wife and devoted mother who did not neglect her womanly duties in order to write the verse.