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Melville, Elizabeth


Subject Literature » Renaissance Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405194495.2012.x


Elizabeth Melville, Lady Culross (c. 1575–1640), a Scottish poet, was the author of Ane godlie dreame , first printed in Scots at Edinburgh in 1603 and republished at least 12 times down to 1737 in anglicized form. Melville's known oeuvre has expanded radically with the discovery in 2002 of 29 verses in a single manuscript volume of sermons by Robert Bruce, the militantly Presbyterian minister banished from Edinburgh in 1600, and of several other lyrics in disparate print and manuscript sources. Born at Halhill Tower near Collessie, Fife, Scotland, Melville died probably at Culross in Fife. She was the daughter of Christian Boswell of Balmutto, Fife, and Sir James Melville of Halhill, Fife, courtier, ambassador, and memoirist. She married John Colville, titular commendator of Culross, around 1590. Nothing is known of her clearly extensive education, presumably received at home. Her father's decision to have his daughters educated may have resulted from his own youthful exposure to the French court, where literary women were prominent, not least the prolific, published, and Protestant-leaning Queen Marguerite of Navarre. Elizabeth's antecedents are impeccably Protestant; her grandfather was executed for his faith by the Scottish Catholic government in 1548, and her father was eventually adopted by John Knox's friend and fellow prisoner of the French Henrie Balnaves. The poet herself ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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