This is the first modern edition and translation of the writings of the Neo-Latin poet Elizabeth Jane Weston (c. 1581-1612), the stepdaughter of Edward Kelley, court alchemist of Rudolf II in Prague. Turning to the composition of Latin poems as a means of seeking financial support for herself and her family after Kelley's disgrace and death, Weston became widely celebrated as the 'Virgo Angla' and was held in high esteem in the international republic of letters of her time. This collection of poems and letters written by her, to her, and, occasionally, about her, sheds new light on the possibilities of artistic self-representation available to women at the end of the sixteenth century. The core of the edition (which contains the Latin text along with a facing-page English translation) is Weston's Parthenica (c. 1608), supplemented by a wide range of individual poems found in various European libraries.The editors have identified proper names and allusions where possible, while leaving to others the task of evaluating Weston's achievement.
Readers of this edition will be fascinated by the evidence of a woman whose orphaned state seems to have enabled her to write freely and to be praised and published to a degree denied women under the tutelage of father or husband. This edition should be an indispensable part of the growing library of women writers in the early modern period. Winner of the Josephine Roberts Award, presented by the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women
Donald Cheney is Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Brenda Hosington is Professor at the Department of Linguistics, Universit de Montr al.