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Cavendish, Margaret


Subject Literature » Renaissance Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405194495.2012.x


Margaret Cavendish, duchess of Newcastle (1623–73), was the author of a singularly large volume of work. She wrote in multiple genres, including poetry, plays, stories, letters, orations, biography, and autobiography, essays, and natural and political philosophy. Her work was published in 12 large folio volumes (not including subsequent editions), with a great deal of paratextual material that both apologized for and aggressively promoted the books it prefaced, punctuated, and concluded. She was, in a fulsome sense of the term, an author, and deeply invested in both the stature of that identity and the myriad uses of printed books. Born into the Essex gentry in 1623, Margaret Lucas was two when her father died and thereafter her mother ran the large family estate. During the English Civil Wars, the Lucas estate was plundered and (eventually) sequestered. In 1643 Margaret joined Queen Henrietta Maria's court in exile as a maid of honour, first in Oxford, and then in Paris, where she met and married her fellow exile William Cavendish, marquess of Newcastle, a widower, playwright, and former Royalist general 30 years her senior. After their marriage they lived in heavily indebted and culturally rich exile in Paris, Holland, and Antwerp. William and his brother Sir Charles Cavendish were patrons of Thomas Hobbes and René Descartes, among others, and from 1648 to 1660, William and Margaret ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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