Who was the world's first published American woman writer?
Today you can walk through any
book store and find many different books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction
that were all written by women. But one has to wonder whether or not these same
bookstores would be so flooded with women’s work if it weren’t for Anne
Bradstreet. Anne Bradstreet was not only a mother and wife in the 1600s, she was
also the first published American woman writer.
Anne Bradstreet was very educated even from a very
young age. It’s still said that the personal library that she had on-hand at all
times, until her home burned down in 1666 and took much of the work with it,
equaled over 800 books. Although she read and wrote on many subjects including
politics, history, medicine, and theology, when it came to writing, it was
mostly poetry that she focused on. She wrote simply by looking at the world
around her and marking down her observations.
From these observances came such poems as “Upon the
Burning of Our house July 1666.” And because Anne Bradstreet was a devoutly
Christian woman and played the role of the homemaker quite well, often her
poetry would turn to domestic and religious matters. However, even though she
took on a very traditional role in the home and didn’t seem interested in
changing that role any, Anne Bradstreet was still considered to be a very free
thinker and one of the early feminists.
It was in 1647 that her brother-in-law, Reverend
John Woodbridge, took one of her manuscripts overseas to England to get it
published. This collection, titled “The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up Into
America, by a Gentlewoman of Such Parts,” was the first of her work to be
published. In taking the manuscript, the Puritan men in her life, which included
her brother-in-law as well as her husband, hoped to show the rest of the world
that women could bring more to the world than just the title of mother and wife,
and that they could do it without being in competition with men.
Since that first publication, Anne Bradstreet would
see much more of her work in print. One of her most famous poems however, “To My
Dear and Loving Husband” would not be published until after her death. This poem
appears in her collection “Several Poems Compiled with Great Wit and Learning.”