Volume 3, number 1
Spring 1998

From Nancy W. Miller, President of the Society:

"I am Confident that Wisdom, and for the most part Virtue is Inherent in those that are Masters of Learning, and Indued with Wit; and to this sort of Persons do I Offer my Works" (MC, Dedicatory Letter from Sociable Letters). Although MC's praise of academia may not have gained her entree to the closed society of the "Most Famously Learned" in her own day, she has now in our day moved herself so far into this society that her works are indeed the objects of sincere inquiry, as scholars (indued with wisdom, wit, and virtue, of course) from many disciplines probe her words for possible meanings, connections, and contexts.

Welcome to the third installment of the Margaret Cavendish Society Newsletter. We are now a year and a half old, and while the Board doggedly works to unravel the tangles and mats that obscure a clear path to financial legitimacy, we happily continue to promote members' Cavendish related projects. We are delighted to have plans well underway for the Second International Cavendish Conference and General Meeting in Paris in June 1999. We are also proposing a Special Session at MLA in San Francisco in December 1998 on "Cavendish and the Early Modern Canon," which we hope will be a first step toward gaining recognition by that august body. Additionally, we expect Cavendish to have a healthy presence at the Women Writing 1550 1750 conference in Melbourne in July 1999 (see details on conferences and meetings below). I continue to urge members both to take an active role in promoting Cavendish studies in their own regions and to contact any of the Board members with questions, suggestions, and comments regarding the Society, projects, or related issues. -- Nancy Miller

CMRS Grant Supports Newsletter

The Ohio State University Center for Medieval and Renaissance Study has generously funded the mailing of this publication during the 1997-98 academic year. The Center has promised further support in the form of matching funds for an additional two years. The Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies is an interdisciplinary unit within OSU, which offers undergraduate major and minor programs, a graduate certificate program, and serves as an intellectual hub for faculty researching and teaching the diverse cultures of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Through its small grants program, CMRS supports the work of its faculty affiliates and advanced graduate students. Now in its twenty-eighth year, the CMRS is currently under the direction of Nicholas Howe, Professor of English. In recent years the Center has sponsored a rich special events program of conferences, lectures, workshops, and colloquia. For information about thecurrent schedule of events, contact Dawn Metcalf, CMRS, 256 Cunz Hall, 1841 Millikin Rd., Columbus, OH 43210-1229; (614)292-7495; or visit the CMRS website.

Margaret Cavendish in Print

Anne Shaver has an edition of four plays forthcoming from Johns Hopkins UP. The volume, The Convent of Pleasure and Other Plays, will includeThe Bridals, Loves Adventures I & II, and Bell in Campo I & II in addition toConvent. An appendix will include the extensive front matter of Playes (1662), the Epistle to the Readerthat closes the 1662 volume, and the single Epistle that precedes the text ofPlays Never Before Printed (1668). The introduction, notes and minimal apparatus are pitched toward use in the undergraduate or graduate classroom. Anne reports that JHUP is planning to bring out both hardback and paperback editions.

Jennifer Rowsell has sent word of a special offer. Seventeenth Century Press has published individual paperback editions of MC's The Convent of Pleasure (intro. J. Rowsell) and The Sociable Companions (intro. Amanda Holton) and WC's The Humorous Lovers (intro. James Fitzmaurice). These volumes are available to MCS members at the reduced rate of £4.00, plus postage and packing (per copy: UK 50p, Europe £1, USA £1.75, Australia/New Zealand £2; all 3 copies: UK £1, Europe £2, USA £3.50, Australia/NZ £4). To order, write SCP, 41 Leckford Road, Oxford OX2 6HY, U.K.

The Duchess of Newcastle and the Brown University Women Writers Project

By Carol DeBoer Langworthy,

Ph.D. Director,

Women Writers Project Brown University

(Editor's Note: The previous MC Society Newsletter (Vol. 2.1) reported that Cavendish texts are currently available online from the Brown University Women Writers Project as hypertext documents. This is not the case. Read on for a status report on Cavendish and the WWP.)

For those unfamiliar with the Women Writers Project (WWP), here is a thumbnail description: We are creating an electronic textbase of works in English by early modern women writers -- anyone prior to 1830, by and large. Texts are entered into the computer in Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML). This system of encoding then makes it possible , via computer search, to retrieve pertinent information (as marked in the texts while encoding) about literary features, historical shifts in language use, and other salient features of the texts. SGML also allows production of a number of different products from an electronic textbase. Just one of those products is paper printouts of individual texts.

Founded in 1986 by a group of scholars interested in the inclusion of women's writing into teaching, research and the literary canon, the Project received its first funding in 1988 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). We have received continuous funding from NEH since then, along with generous support from Brown University, and - more recently - from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Apple Computer, Inc. Currently we have over 250 texts encoded, with plans to capture another 150 by June 1999.

Margaret Cavendish in the WWP Textbase

The first Cavendish text we captured for our textbase was her A Description of a New World , Called The Blazing World (1668, copy from the British Library), in 1989. This was followed, the same year, by her The World's Olio (copy from Huntington Library, 1655). During 1990, we encoded herPoems and Fancies (copy from the Huntington Library, 1653). In 1993, we encoded two of her plays: The Comical Hash (1662) and Matrimonial Trouble from her Plays Written by the Thrice Noble...(copy from Newberry Library, 1662). I believe these acquisitions attest to this organization's early belief in the importance of the First Duchess of Newcastle for an understanding of early modern women's writing.

Paper Drafts Make MC Accessible for Teaching

Perhaps it was a harbinger of the rising tide of popularity of Margaret Cavendish, that hers was the very first draft WWP text to be used in teaching. Professor Anne Shaver of Denison University used Cavendish's Blazing World while a visiting professor at Brown University in the fall of 1989. Susanne Woods, then Professor of English at Brown University and Associate Dean of the Faculty, also was an early user of Cavendish. She encouraged the WWP's encoding of Cavendish's The World's Olio (1655) in order to use that text to give a woman's definition of Apoetry@ in her English 136 class in spring 1990 at Brown University. This Spring term, I used Margaret Cavendish's autobiography in a class dedicated to that genre. This autobiographical segment of Cavendish's Natures Pictures (1656) will become available as paper draft printout at some indefinite time in the future possibly as early as fall 1998.

Plans call for the electronic version of these Cavendish materials to become available with the release of our electronic product as a whole in late 1999. In the meantime, Margaret Cavendish continues to be one of our most popular authors in sale of draft texts. Since the Project began selling paper drafts, we have sold nearly 100 copies of her texts. Estimating 20 copies made of each text, this would mean that some 2000 copies of Cavendish texts are in circulation for teaching and research from the WWP textbase. (For a complete list of drafttexts, see below.)

Renaissance Women Online

Cavendish also is a major author featured in our current special initiative called Renaissance Women Online (RWO). Funded by a major grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, RWO supports the study of the impact of electronic text on scholarly behavior and the costs of research. This study is being done on a subset of 100 texts by women writers of the English Renaissance as prepared by the WWP for electronic delivery.

As part of this special initiative, we are capturing more of the works of the Duchess of Newcastle. Over the next year, we intend to finish encoding the following works: Plays Never Before Printed (1668) - Newberry Library; Plays Written by the Thrice Noble, Illustrious and Excellent Princess, the Lady Marchioness of Newcastle (1662) - Newberry Library; Philosophical Letters (1664) - Folger Shakespeare Library; Nature's Pictures (1656) - British Library; The Life of William Cavendish (1667) - Folger Library; Observations on Experimental Philosophy (1666) - library not yet identified. Renaissance Women Online (RWO) also is preparing contextual materials for that subset of 100 texts to aid the initiatory student, the instructor, and the general reader in accessing and understanding women's writing from the English Renaissance. Volunteer scholars from around the world are preparing essays to enlighten readers about the historical context of the texts, of friendships and relationships between writers, and of topical concerns treated in diverse texts. These will be available online, only, not in draft printout.

An introductory essay by Professor Susanne Woods, now of Franklin and Marshall College and chair of the Executive Committee of the WWP's Advisory Board, will provide a framework for the contextual materials as a whole. All of these materials -- encoded texts and contextual materials -- will be "delivered" electronically upon the conclusion of RWO. Technically speaking, this electronic product will not be hypertext, as there will not be links between documents. Present plans call for this delivery to be accomplished through a system of licensed access purchased by public and private libraries and educational institutions as well as other institutions.

A key aspect of RWO is the study of the uses of electronic texts byscholars, vis a vis their use of traditional scholarly sources. Some of you may have received a questionnaire from the WWP about your habits, preferences, and contemplated future use of electronic materials such as the WWP textbase, along with your current habits in using traditional scholarly resources. We have been gratified by the high rate of return on this survey and look forward to sharing the results with the general public sometime after completion of RWO in July of 1999.

Since those early years, the WWP and Margaret Cavendish have come a long way. In fact, the Women Writers Project has become so enamored of Margaret Cavendish's writing that we hope to do more to help her "to be the highest on Fortunes Wheele, and to hold the wheele from turning, ..." (Eleventh Book of Natures Pictures) . Depending on future funding, we hope to encode and present Margaret Cavendish's entire ouevre. Should that become possible, scholars will be able to do comprehensive analysis of all of her works, using the computer for sophisticated searches on words, dates, and personal names, as well as other searches of which we can, at present, only dream.

Paper Drafts Available:

In the meantime, it is possible to obtain paper drafts of transcriptions of C's

These works are currently available for purchase from the WWP as printouts of research drafts for use in teaching and research. Prices listed are for master copies of these items. Instructors may then, after completing a form relevant to copyright clearance, make copies for classroom use. Research use of this material, which is, by and large, out of copyright, involves no such copyright clearance.

Coming Soon:

WWP staff are currently engaged in proofreading a number of Cavendish texts. By the end of the summer, we hope to have available as draft printouts the following plays: The Apocriphal Ladies, The Public Wooing, The Wits Cabal, The Unnatural Tragedie, The Convent of Pleasure, A Piece of a Play, Youths Glory and Deaths Banquet, The Bridals, The Sociable Companions.

Prices have not been established for the above items yet. If all goes well, there may be other texts available as well. Keep checking the WWP textlist on the webpage to see what's available for order (or send mail or email to the addresses below).

To Order:

To order draft texts, consult the WWP's webpage:

You may also contact the WWP by email: [email protected] or by sending a letter to Women Writers Project, Box 1841, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912 USA.

The Society for the Study of Early Modern Women has formed a fund in memory of Josephine A. Roberts, who died in an automobile accident in August 1996. The money will be used to subsidize the publication of volume 2 of Mary Wroth's Urania, which Jo had almost finished editing when she died (it is being completed by Suzanne Gossett and Janel Mueller and will be published by the Renaissance English Text Society). Contributions may be sent to Anne Cruz, Treasurer EMW, Dept. of Spanish (M/C 315), Univ. of Illinois at Chicago, 601 Morgan Street, Chicago, Illinois 60607 7117.

New and Noteworthy Work

Anna Battigelli. Margaret Cavendish and the Exiles of the Mind. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, Fall 1998.

Marina Leslie. "Antipodal Anxieties: Joseph Hall, Richard Brome, Margaret Cavendish and the Cartographies of Gender." Genre 30 (1997): 53 80. This is a study of the gendering of the topos of the world turned upside down in Mundus Alter et Idem, The Antipodes, and The Blazing World, with particular attention to the colonialist and isolationist uses of this topographical metaphor.

Nancy Miller. "Ethos, Authority, and Virtue for Seventeenth Century Women Writers: The Case of Bathsua Makin's An Essay to Revive the Antient Education of Gentlewomen (1673)." Listening to Their Voices: The Rhetorical Activities of Historical Women. Ed. Molly Meijer Wertheimer. Columbia: U of South Carolina P, 1997. 255 71. (Obliquely related to MC.)

Nancy Miller. Book in progress: Rape and the Rhetoric of Chastity in Early Modern England. (Discussions of Cavendish throughout Part II: 3 chapters on women writers, including discussion of Brief Relation, Assaulted & Pursued Chastity, Convent of Pleasure, and assorted poems, letters, and prefaces.

Jeanne Addison Roberts. "Convents, Conventions, and Contraventions: Love's Labor's Lost and The Convent of Pleasure." Shakespeare's Sweet Thunder: Essays on the Early Comedies. Ed. Michael J. Collins. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1997.

Jeanne Addison Roberts. "Margaret Cavendish Plays with Shakespeare." Renaissance Papers (1997).

Jennifer Rowsell. Founder of Seventeenth Century Press, which has recently published three Cavendish plays. (See notice on front page of this edition.)

Paul Salzman. Shakespeare and Margaret Cavendish: The Crisis in Editing and Early Modern Women's Writing. Meridian: The La Trobe University English Review (October, 1997).

Paul Salzman. Introduction to Life of William Cavendish,Brown Women Writers Project, Electronic Textbase.

Hilda L. Smith. "A General War amongst the Men [but] None amongst the Women: Political Differences between Margaret and William Cavendish." Politics and the Political Imagination in Later Stuart Britain. Ed. Howard Nenner (Rochester UP, 1997), 143 160.

Christine Mason Sutherland. "Aspiring to the Rhetorical Tradition: A Study of Margaret Cavendish." Listening to Their Voices: The Rhetorical Activities of Historical Women. Ed. Molly Meijer Wertheimer. Columbia: U of South Carolina P, 1997. 255 71.

WANT TO BE INCLUDED IN THIS COLUMN? Send news of your Cavendish-related publications, works-in-progress, conference papers, special lectures, and dissertations (those you are writing or those you are directing) to Deborah Burks ([email protected]) for inclusion in the newsletter. If you would also post news of those items to the MarCav list, James Fitzmaurice will add them to the MC Bibliography linked to his website:

Margaret Cavendish Dissertations.

Irene Bom, doctoral candidate in the Department of English at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, is completing a dissertation entitled, Fame as Corporeal Substance: The Matter of Authorship in the Writings of Margaret Cavendish. Irene writes, " My dissertation examines how the rise of materialist philosophies in the mid-seventeenth-century helped to shape notions of literary property and the figure of the individual author. While Milton introduces contemporary debates about the nature of substance into the content of his texts, Cavendish constructs the act of writing itself in response to these theories. The dissertation situates Cavendish's concern with fame and originality within broader discussions and practises involving the boundaries of the self.

Whitley Cooke, a doctoral candidate at the University of Oklahoma, is writing a dissertation which follows the progression of thought in Margaret Cavendish's works. Concentrating on her Philosophical works, I show that her ideas, though not original, show a unique approach to the material and a rhetoric that allows her to present a feminine perspective of the philosophy. Her progression can be found in her many different attempts in expressing her philosophical system both in her non fiction and her fiction. I compare her to the male philosophers of the "Newscastle" group to show that she did join in the debate surrounding Natural Philosophy, and not only responds to the current trends, but is an active participant in the debates about nature.

Patricia Marby Harrison, doctoral candidate in the Department of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is writing a dissertation entitled Civil Wars: Marriage and Militarism in English Literature, 1650 1714. Chapter two is on Margaret Cavendish, Katherine Philips and Lucy Hutchinson, and addresses their representations of the home and marriage in light of their experiences during the English Civil Wars. I compare their depictions of home and marriage to their male contemporaries, namely anonymous pamphlet authors, Oliver Cromwell, and John Milton. I argue that the concept of "home" is not only unstable in the mid seventeenth century but also serves as a public, metaphoric site for the articulation of anxieties about the Civil War, anxieties which are ultimately manifested in negative depictions of marriage and gender relations in the Restoration.

Susannah Quinsee is working on a dissertation study of the poetry of Cavendish, Behn and Bradstreet at the University of Liverpool. She is looking specifically at the creation of the gendered poetic voice in these three women writers.

Emma L. E. Rees. Genre in Exile: Margaret Cavendish's Writings of the 1650s. The dissertation explores how Cavendish engages with literary paradigms (Plato, Homer etc.) and genres, subverting or reinventing them to function as a subversive critique of the Interregnum regime.

Congratulations to Emma on completing her dissertation and earning her doctorate!

Have you recently published a book?

Line Cottegnies has written to solicit books from authors who would like to have their work reviewed in the journal of the Société des Etudes Anglo-americaines des XVIIe et XVIIIe Siècles. Line is their seventeenth century correspondent and will see to it that books sent to her are reviewed promptly. Address materials to Line at Departement des études litteraires anglaises, UFR 4, Université de Paris 8, 2 rue de la Liberté, 93520 Saint-Denis FRANCE.

Margaret Cavendish On-line:

The Margaret Cavendish Society continues to sponsor an active discussion list via e-mail. The list links scholars working on projects related to MC and early modern women's writing, and is a vehicle for collaboration, conversation, queries, and calls for participation in upcoming publications and conferences. To subscribe to the Margaret Cavendish listserve, send an e-mail message to: MARCAV-L [email protected]

Leave the subject field blank. Type only this message: SUBSCRIBE MARCAV L.

MCS website:
[moved as of 1/2000]

Teaching Materials Archive:

Professor Brandie Siegfried is compiling materials related to the teaching of MC's work. Feel free to contact her for ideas from the archive when you next teach MC . . . and please submit your own assignments, class activities, research projects, and ideas to supplement the archive.

Send materials to Brandie Siegfried, English Department, 3169 JKHB, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602. Email:[email protected]

Call for Papers:

The Margaret Cavendish Society is pleased to announce


"Margaret Cavendish and her Milieu"

University of Paris 8 (Saint Denis, North of Paris Metro: Saint Denis Université)

11 12 JUNE 1999

'Women Writing 1550 1750' La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia July 10 and 11, 1999

Convenors: Kate Lilley (Sydney University); Paul Salzman (La Trobe University)

This two day conference (please note changed date) will explore all aspects of women's writing from 1550 to 1750. We welcome offers of papers from people working in any discipline and hope to include one or two colloquia which will specifically address interdisciplinary issues. Contributions from postgraduate students are welcome.

Please send a brief outline for either a 20 minute paper or a five minute contribution to a colloquium to: Paul Salzman, School of English, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia, 3083 Email: [email protected] Deadline: 1 December 1998 Conference web site:

Margaret Cavendish Society Board:

President: Nancy W. Miller

Vice President: Emma Rees

Secretary: Alexandra Bennett

Head Treasurer: Carole Breakstone

Web Master: Susannah Quinsee

List Editor: James Fitzmaurice

Newsletter Editor: Deborah Burks

Members at Large:

Feel free to contact members of the board with questions about the Society. If you are able to supply (or correct) e-mail addresses missing (or misprinted) above, please contact Jim Fitzmaurice, Susannah Quinsee and Deborah Burks.

The Margaret Cavendish Society was established to serve as an international forum for communication among those involved in Cavendish and related scholarship. To this end, the Society maintains the email discussion list MarCav (instructions for joining the list are included on the first page of this publication) and is currently working to establish an Internet site. The Society also sponsors Cavendish panels at relevant conferences world-wide and hosts an international Margaret Cavendish conference and general meeting every two years. To become a member, contact:

Alexandra Bennett, MCS Secretary:
Department of English
Concordia University
1455 de Maisonneuve Boulevard West
Montreal, Quebec

Tel: (514) 848 2359

Newsletter compiled by:
Deborah G. Burks,
Editor Margaret Cavendish Society Newsletter
Department of English
The Ohio State University -- Lima Campus
4240 Campus Drive