Life into Story: Courtship of Elizabeth Wiseman

1st Edition

Mary Chan

Published May 23, 2019
Reference - 113 Pages
ISBN 9780367001568 - CAT# K393550
Series: Routledge Revivals

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First published in 1998, this collection of letters, presented with scholarly introduction, notes and glosses, enters the debate on women and gender in early modern England as documents for the case of Elizabeth Wiseman, a wealthy widow. The letters and first-person narrative accounts relate to the courtship of Wiseman (neé North) by Robert Spencer in 1686-87. Widowed at the age of 37 in 1684 on the death of Robert Wiseman, she was left with a fortune of £20,000 and disliked Spencer so significantly that she made every effort to avoid him. These documents provide evidence for the circumstances and degree of agency over one’s marital circumstances which could be expected and exercised by wealthy, late 17th century widowed women. Historians are provided here with a glimpse of the rich and complex texture of social life in the period. The participants were people of influence and social standing in London at the time, some with strong interest in the outcome of the discussion, and the letters provide an almost complete correspondence on the issue of courtship and marriage.


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