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Primrose, Diana


Subject Literature » Renaissance Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405194495.2012.x


Nothing is known with certainty about the life of Diana Primrose, author of the poem sequence A chaine of pearle. Or a memoriall of the peerles graces, and heroick vertues of Queene Elizabeth, of glorious memory (1630). The work's title page refers to Primrose as a ‘Noble Lady’, and while the dedicatory sonnet by Dorothy Berry calls her, punningly, ‘the Prime-Rose of the Muses nine’, it offers no further clues about her identity. Primrose was the name of a prominent family in the period, but Diana does not appear in genealogical records. As a result, some scholars, beginning with the nineteenth-century antiquarian John Nichols (1823) , have speculated that the poem was written under a pseudonym. Nichols attributed authorship to Lady Anne Clifford, countess of Pembroke, Dorset, and Montgomery (1590–1676), but there is nothing in her letters or diaries to substantiate his claim. The tendency, more recently, has been to argue that Diana was married or related somehow to Gilbert Primrose (1566/67–1641), a minister in the French Reformed Church and later chaplain in ordinary to James I. The Oxford dictionary of national biography , however, casts doubt on the former, since Gilbert Primrose was married to Elizabeth Brenin from about 1596 until her death in July 1637 and married twice more before he died (Jeanne Hersent in 1637; Louise de Lobel in 1641) (Littleton 2004). There has ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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