Anne Bradstreet

A nne Bradstreet is remembered as the first published writer in England’s North American Colonies. She is also the first Puritan figure in American Literature. Her body of poetic work is quite large. Many pieces were published posthumously. 

Anne Bradstreet


Life Facts

  • Anne Bradstreet was born in March of 1612 in Northhampton, England.
  • When she was only sixteen years old she married Simon Bradstreet.
  • The family emigrated to American in 1630. 
  • In 1672, she died of tuberculosis. 
  • She was the first Puritan figure in American Literature. 

Interesting Facts

  • Anne Bradstreet’s birth name was Anne Dudley.
  • She had eight children. 
  • The Bradstreets played an important role in the founding of Harvard in 1636.
  • She signed ‘The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America’ with the name “A Gentlewoman from Those Parts”. 
  • The family home burned in July of 1666. 


Famous Poems by Anne Bradstreet

Verses upon the Burning of our House, July 10th, 1666was inspired by real events that happened as the title suggests. Her home, in which she lived with her husband Samuel and their many children burnt in July of 1666. Throughout, she describes her suffering and sadness at the loss of her worldly possessions. But, in the end, she comes to the conclusion that its better to lose everything and focus on making it to heaven. 

 

The Author to Her Book is another of Bradstreet’s most celebrated poems. In it, she describes her disappointment at a finished piece of writing. She tried fruitlessly to improve it but was never able to. It’s her own fault, she thinks, because she is a woman and has a “feeble” brain. Despite her anger, the book belongs to her, as a child would. She can’t get rid of it. 

 

A Letter to her Husband, absent upon Publick employment focuses on the theme of absence. Throughout the poem, the speaker discusses her longing for her husband, who is away for work. He has been gone for a long time and she is suffering without him. She describes in this emotional poem how her whole being belongs to her husband, body, and soul. He’ll return to her “in Cancer” and she’ll unfreeze from the state she’s in. 

 

Prologue  is another poem that focuses on the writer’s relationship with her own art. She discusses the differences in her mind and ability compared to a man’s and professes the belief that she’s inferior to her male counterparts. She thinks that she can only write about a small collection of topics. Her womanhood is keeping her from writing about historical subjects. 

 

To my Dear and Loving Husband is addressed to Bradstreet’s husband, Samuel, who she married when she was only sixteen. She expresses the strength of their love, claiming that it’s better than any love to come before it. She also tells her husband that she loves him more than anything else, such as gold or jewels. He is far more valuable to her. On her end, her love is burning so passionately that no “river” could “quench” it. 


Early Life

Anne Bradstreet was born in March of 1612 in Northhampton, England. Her birth name was Anne Dudley and her parents were Thomas Dudley, who was the steward of the Early of Lincoln, and Dorothy Yorke. Her family’s position allowed her to grow up in a well-educated household. She was consistently exposed to books and was tutored in history as well as several languages. As a young woman, she was deeply moved and inspired by the writer Du Bartas, who was a courtier and poet in the mid-late 1500s in France. 


Marriage and Immigration

When she was only sixteen years old she married Simon Bradstreet who would late serve as the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The couple, alongside Anne’s parents, immigrated to America as part of the Winthrop Fleet of Puritan emigrants in 1630. It was not until June that she arrived in the New World. The family spent short periods of time in Charleston, what is now Salem, and Boston. They eventually settled in Cambridge. 

It was here that Bradstreet had her first child, Samuel. He was the first of eight children to be born to the couple. Bradstreet’s health was tenuous throughout her life but she was able to achieve a high social standing and live through the delivery of all her children. The couple moved again while Bradstreet was pregnant with their sixth child and ended up in Andover Parish. 


Literary Works

The Bradstreets played an important role in the founding of Harvard in 1636 and two of their sons were graduates of the institution. In 1650, Bradstreet’s work, The Tenth Muse lately Sprung Up in America was published. The author’s name was listed as “A Gentlewoman from Those Parts.” The family home burned in July of 1666, an event which Bradstreet wrote about in her poem, Verses upon the Burning of our House, July 10th, 1666. 


Death

In the later years of her life Bradstreet contract an illness which led to a paralysis of her joints. In 1672, Anne Bradstreet died of tuberculosis. She was sixty years old. It is like she was buried in the Old Burying Ground in North Andover. 


Influence from other Poets

Anne Bradstreet was notably influenced by writers such as Guillaume du Bartas, Edmund Spenser, and Sir Philip Sidney.


Poems by Anne Bradstreet

Explore poetry by Anne Bradstreet below, analyzed by the team at Poem Analysis.

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