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'Anne Lock's Anonymous Friend: 'A Meditation of a Penitent Sinner' and the Problem of Ascription'

Serjeantson, D (2012) ''Anne Lock's Anonymous Friend: 'A Meditation of a Penitent Sinner' and the Problem of Ascription'.' In: Cooney, H and Sweetnam, M, (eds.) Enigma and Revelation in Renaissance Literature. Four Courts Press, 51 - 72. ISBN 9781846822810


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Despite much scholarly interest and a great deal of diligent searching, the corpus of texts by early-modern women writers remains small. Anne Lock?s (Lok, Vaughan) short sonnet sequence, The Meditation of a Penitent Sinner (1560), has its own intrinsic claims for attention: it is, for instance, the first sonnet sequence written in English. However, as a work by a woman, it has become a focal point for a small industry of critics writing about its implications for work on women?s textual communities, their medical practice (it displays familiarity with medical terminology), and the relationship between a woman?s social status and her writing: Lock, unlike many of the prominent female authors of her day, belonged to the mercantile classes rather than the court. It is thus potentially a blow to women?s studies to find (in an MS marginal note which has not, to my knowledge, been discussed in print) that the first of Lock?s sonnets appears in a late-sixteenth-century Scottish psalter (BL MUS Add. 33933) with an inscription which associates the text, not with Lock, but with a man: Christopher Goodman, the Protestant preacher, friend of John Knox, and client of the Sidneys. Since Lock notoriously did not claim the authorship of the sonnets (she says they were ?geven [her] by a frend?, a statement usually interpreted as a modesty trope), this reference to Goodman seems to offer a solution for her failure to claim the sonnets as her own. This essay explores the authorship of the sonnets, and offers an explanation to the mystery posed by Lock?s attribution of the text to the unknown ?frend?.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: Anne Lock; Lok; Vaughan; John Knox; Christopher Goodman; women's writing
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, Department of
Depositing User: Deirdre Serjeantson
Date Deposited: 04 Jul 2012 11:22
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2017 18:11

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