Anne Bradstreet’s Life
Anne Bradstreet, née Dudley, was the first female writer and poet in the British North American colonies who succeeded in getting her works published. Born on March 20, 1612 in Northampton in England, Anne was brought up in a civilized household. This was due to the position of her father, Thomas Dudley, who was working as a steward for the Earl of Lincoln. Beginning in childhood,Anne was educated in history, literature, and several foreign languages.
Following her marriage to Simon Bradstreet at the age of sixteen, she changed her name to Anne Bradstreet. In 1630, the couple moved to America with the Puritan emigrants. They reached what was later known as Salem, Massachusetts, on June 14, 1630. Starvation and illness forced the settlers to move to the south of Massachusetts. The Bradstreet family shortly moved again to what is now Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The couple had eight children. Anne had a good social standing in the new colony due to the fact that she was an educated woman, and her husband and father played an important role in the establishment of Harvard. In 1650, Anne’s first collection of poems, “The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America,” was published, but she did not know it. In fact, her brother-in-law, Rev. John Woodbridge, had sent this collection for publication. The book went on to win Anne accolades.
Anne Bradstreet passed away at the age of 60 in North Andover, Massachusetts on September 1, 1672. The precise location of her grave is remains uncertain.
Anne Bradstreet’s Works
Anne Bradstreet wrote poems while bringing up eight children. She was working as a hostess as well as doing various other domestic chores, and thus her poetic career was a great feat. After leaving England, Anne resided permanently in the New World. Her brother-in-law took Anne’s poems to England without letting her know, and published Anne’s first collection “The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America” in 1650. Most of the poems from the first edition were quite lengthy.
The major power behind her poetry was her breadth and depth of knowledge, as she was educated in history, politics, theology, medicine, and philosophy. Anne valued intellectual development through education more than anything else. Anne was also a feminist and a free thinker. Her personal library was reported to have more than 800 books. Sadly, the library was ruined in a house fire that consumed all of the Bradstreet’s personal belongings. This unfortunate incident left a lasting impact on her writing, and Anne wrote a poem, “Upon the Burning of Our House,” to commemorate it.Anne also wrote about her family and her spiritual growth.
Anne Bradstreet’s Style and Popular Poems
Anne’s works are often aimed at her family members, and contain intimate sketches of them. For example, in her poem “To My Dear Loving Husband,” the intended audience is her husband, Simon Bradstreet. Another example is “A Letter to Her Husband, Absent Upon Public Employment.” Anne used a variety of metaphors to depict characters in the poems, comparing them to the seasons. She discussed the themes of love, nature, Puritan religion, and community. By reading her poems, one can get a sense of the intended audience, as most of her poems concerned the lifes of Puritan women.
Bradstreet often used a sarcastic tone towards societal norms. This is because society was highly conservative during her time, and women were only supposed to perform household tasks. Some of her best poems are “A Letter to Her Husband,” “An Apology,” “As Spring the Winter Doth Succeed,” “To My Dear and Loving Husband,” “In Reference to Her Children,” “The Flesh and Spirit,” “The Four Seasons of the Year,” “The Vanity of All worldly Things,” “To Her Father with Some Verses,” and “To My Dear Children.”
More about Her
In 1997, the Harvard University community dedicated a gate in Anne’s memory for being the first female poet to publish her work both in the colonies and in England. Martha Wadsworth Brewster, a notable American poet, was influenced by Bradstreet, and paid homage to Anne’s verses in her work “Poems on Diverse Subjects.” In 1956, John Berryman, another popular poet, paid his compliments to her poetic talent in his poem “Homage to Mistress Bradstreet.”