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CHAPTER 12. Early Modern Women

Elizabeth Clarke

Subject Literature, Religion

Key-Topics Bible

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131605.2009.00012.x


In that most popular of early modern exemplary lives of women, A Christal Glasse for Christian Women of 1591, Katherine Stubbes's obsessive Bible reading was held up as a particular virtue for godly women to emulate: “you could seldom or never have come into her house, and have found her without a bible, or some other good booke in her hands. And when she was not reading, she would spend the time in conferring, talking and reasoning with her husband of the worde of God.” Ian Green suggests there were about thirty-four editions of this work in the next 100 years, establishing Katherine Stubbes as the ideal early modern woman, and Bible reading as a key aspect of her ideal womanhood. It is less easy to discern exactly what Katherine Stubbes did with her Bible reading. When asked why she read the Bible so much, she replied, “if I should be a friend unto this world, I should be an enemie to GOD.” Within the short pages of this biography, Katherine Stubbes is indeed constructed as someone who was a friend to God and an enemy to the world, so much so that at the age of twenty, and with a newborn baby boy to care for, she was happy to die of a fever and go to God. Quite a few pages of this pamphlet are given over to her own deathbed speech, “set downe word for word, as she spake it, as neere as could be gathered” (sig. A1r). However, it consists less of anything profound she may have ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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