Isabella Whitney is considered the first professional female poet in England, very little is known of her life.
Her brother, Geoffrey Whitney, was a well-known emblem author who lived in London, and she probably had at least three other siblings. She was probably born in Cheshire in the 1540s and may have traveled to London to work as a servant for an aristocratic family.
Whitney was a pioneer in many respects: She was a lower-class woman who published secular verses addressing issues of gender, sexuality, and women's liberation. The London publisher Richard Jones printed her set of verse epistles, The Copy of a Letter, Lately Written in Meter by a Young Gentlewoman: To Her Uncon-stant Lover (1567), as well as A Sweet Nosegay or Pleasant Posy: Containing a Hundred and Ten Philosophical Flowers (1573).
See also "Admonition, by the Author," The; "I. W. To Her Unconstant Lover"; "Will and Testament"; Tudor women poets.
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