Early Modern Women

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A "distinctly theatrical text" by the most celebrated actress of the commedia dell'arte

Andreini, Isabella (1562-1604)
Lettere Della Signora Isabella Andreini Padovana, Comica Gelosa, [et] Academica Intenta, nominata l'Accesa. Aggiuntovi di nuovo li Ragionamenti Piacevoli dell'istessa. Con due Tauole vna delle Lettere, e l'altra de' Ragionamenti, che nell'Opera si contengono. Di nuovo ristampate, & con ogni diligenza ricorrette. [With:] Fragmenti.

Venice: Presso Gio. Battista Combi, 1638


Octavo: 14.2 x 9.5 cm. Two parts in one: [24], 455, [3] pp. Collation: †8, †4, A-Z8, Aa-Ee8, Ff4. (In signature †4 the first leaf is signed “†5” and the 4th leaf has the orphaned catchword “histria”, an error of the compositor, explained by the re-setting of the type from Combi’s 1627 edition to correct omissions in his 1634 edition.)

The first edition of Isabella Andreini's collection of letters appeared in 1607, four years after the author's death, edited by her husband, Francesco. In 1617, with the assistance of Flaminio Scala, Francesco published the "Fragmenti". For a discussion of both works, see below.

"Born in Padua to Venetian parents in 1562, Isabella Andreini (née Canali) would become the most celebrated commedia dell'arte actress of her century by the time of her death in 1604.


An Illuminated Parisian Book of Hours Printed on Vellum

Hore dive virginis Marie, secundum usum Romanorum, cum aliis multis, folio sequenti notatis, una cum figuris Apocalipsis, et multis figuris Biblie insertis [With a calendar for 1513-1527]

Paris: Gilles Hardouyn for Germain Hardouyn, 9 August, 1514


Octavo: Printed on vellum.. 16.2 x 10.5 cm. 112 lvs. Collation: A-O8. Complete

Printed at Paris by Gilles Hardouyn (?1455-?1529) for his brother Germain Hardouyn (d. 1541) at his printshop at the sign of the golden rose near the Pont Notre-Dame. The illustrations were probably produced in the workshop of the Parisian artist Jean Pichore (fl.


Lacombe, Livres d'heures imprimés au XVe et XVIe siècle conservés dans les bibliothèques publiques de Paris, catalogue, no 251 (p. 146); Renouard, ICP, II, 865; Bohatta, 959; Van Praet, I, n° 116 and 132; Brunet 243; Renouard, Les marques typographiques parisiennes des XVe et XVIe siècles, 429 and 431. Another velum copy is held at the Bibliothèque Genève Switzerland.

The Sole Edition of Brathwait’s Satire on the Vices of Women

Brathwait, Richard (1588?-1673)
Ar’t asleepe husband? A boulster lecture; stored with all variety of witty jeasts, merry tales, and other pleasant passages; extracted, from the choicest flowers of philosophy, poesy, antient and moderne history. Illustrated with examples of incomparable constancy, in the excellent history of Philocles and Doriclea. By Philogenes Panedonius

London: Printed by R. Bishop, for R[ichard]. B[est]. or his assignes, 1640


17 x 11 cm. [48], 318, [8] p., [1] leaf of plates Collation: [A]1, a-c⁸, B-X⁸ (with blank X8), Y⁴

This copy conforms with Pforzheimer and lacks the bifolium “Postscript” (Z1-2) “Apparently supplementary and frequently wanting”(Grolier). It is found only in the Huntington and Harmsworth (Folger) copies in the U.S. Quire Y contains the poems "Menippus his Madrigall, to his coy-duck Clarabel” and “Loves Festivall at Lusts Funerall”.


STC 3555; Pforzheimer, 76; Grolier, Wither to Prior 86

The Scandalous Life of Elizabeth Chudleigh

Chudleigh, Elizabeth (c. 1720-1788)
An Authentic Detail of Particulars relative to the Late Duchess of Kingston.

London: Printed for G. Kearsley, at Johnson’s Head, No. 46, Fleet-Street, 1788


Octavo: 21 x 13 cm. pp. [ii], ii, 178, [18]. Collation: [A]2, B-Z4, A1. With an added engraved frontispiece of the Duchess, with breasts exposed "as she appeared at the Venetian Ambassador

Duchess of Kingston, granddaughter of the poet Mary Chudleigh (1656-1710), from whom “she seemed to have inherited no notable literary tastes or talents”(Rizzo) Elizabeth was notorious for her sexual escapades, daring, and profligacy. She studiously cultivated this image, referring to herself (in the third person) thus: “She was both wasteful and penurious; the most enormous sums were expended to gratify her love of display, at the same time that she refused to incur some trifling necessary expense in her household….


ESTC T92902

The First Edition. A Fine Copy in a Contemporary Binding

Chudleigh, Mary Lee, Lady (bap. 1656- d. 1710)
Poems on several occasions. Together with The song of the three children paraphras’d. By the Lady Chudleigh

London: printed by W[illiam]. B[owyer]. for Bernard Lintott at the Middle Temple Gate in Fleetstreet, 1703


Octavo: 19.5 x 12 cm. [16], 125, [17], 73, [1] pp. Collation: A-O8, P4

Mary Chudleigh was a friend of Elizabeth Thomas and an admirer of Mary Astell, with whom she corresponded and whose ‘Defence of the Female Sex’ she tried to emulate. Dedicated to Queen Anne, her ‘Poems on Several Occasions’ was widely noticed, achieving a second edition in 1709. The poems include a wide range of subjects, from lyrics and satires of the age of Dryden, to philosophical and more contemplative verse in keeping with the solitary and often melancholy life that she led in Devon.


Foxon p. 121; ESTC t97275; Maslen and Lancaster, Bowyer ledgers, D36

The Poems of Vittoria Colonna - The Best Edition

Colonna, Vittoria (1492-1547)
Le rime spirituali della illustrissima signora Vittoria Colonna Marchesana di Pescara. Alle quali di nuouo sono stati aggiunti, oltre quelli non pur dell’altrui stampe, ma ancho della nostra medesima, piu di trenta, ò trentatre Sonetti, no mai piu altroue stampati; un capitolo; et in non pochi luoghi ricorrette, et piu chiaramente distinte

Venice: Vincenzo Valgrisi, 1548


Quarto: 20 x 15 cm. 120 pp. Collation: A-P4.

The first edition of Colonna's Rime had been printed in Parma by Viotto in 1538 and presented 145 poems of which 9 by other authors. The first Valgrisi edition (the first in 4to format and the first with the title Rime spirituali) had appeared in 1546 and included 180 poems. The important later edition edited by Rinaldo Corso in 1558 has only 158 poems.

The poetic production of Vittoria Colonna comprises two main characters: one profane, which consists of Petrarchan poems celebrating the love for her husband, the Marquis of Pescara Francesco D'Avalos, whom she married in 1509 and who died in battle in 1525; and one sacred, in which the personal pain for the loss of her husband is transfigured and becomes more and more universal up to a point in which it coincides with the pain of Christ on the cross.


M. Bandini Buti, Poetesse e scrittrici, Rome, 1941, I, pp. 164-171; Gamba, no. 1325 (“più copiosa e meno scorretta”); Edit 16, CNCE12833; A. Erdmann, My Gracious Silence, Lucerne, 1999, p. 211.

First Edition of Queen Elizabeth’s Visitation Articles

ELIZABETH I, Queen of England (1533-1603)
Articles to be enquyred in the visitation, in the fyrst yeare of the raygne of our moost drad soueraygne Lady, Elizabeth by the grace of God, of Englande Fraunce, and Irelande, Quene, defender of the fayth. &c. Anno 1559

London: Imprinted… in Povles Churcheyarde by Richard Iugge and Iohn Cavvood, Printers to the Quenes Maiestie, 1559


Quarto: 18 x 13 cm. [14] pp. Collation: A-B4 (lacking blank leaf B4)

With the signature of the 16th c. book collector Humphrey Dyson (1582-1633) at the foot of the title page. The bookplate of Albert Ehrman, with his motto “Pro Viribus Summis Contendo” is affixed to the front pastedown. This was lot 270 in the 1978 sale of Ehrman’s library. Very rare. ESTC locates 4 copies in the U.S.: Folger, Huntington, Harvard, Yale.

First edition of the first visitation articles established for the reformed church after Elizabeth’s accession.


STC 10118

The First Edition, With the Engraved Portrait - The Birth of the “Myth” of Sor Juana

Juana Inés de la Cruz, Sor (1648-1695)
Fama, y obras posthumas del Fenix de Mexico, Decima Musa, Poetisa Americana, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, religiosa professa en el convento de San Geronimo de la imperial ciudad de Mexico consagralas a la Magestad Catholica de la Reyna Nuestra Señora Doña Mariana de Neoburg Baviera Palatina del Rhin, por mano de la excma. Señora Doña Juana de Aragon y Cortès … &c. El doctor Don Juan Ignacio de Castorena y Vrsua

Madrid: En la Imprenta de Manuel Ruiz de Murga, 1700


Quarto: 20 x 14.5 cm. [142], 210, [6] p. Complete. Collation: [pi]2 (-pi2), [chi]1 (errata/privilege), a-c4, [par.]4-4[par]4, 5[par]4-6[par.]4, 7[par.]4-10[par.]4, *4-4*4 2[chi]1 (“Advertencia”), portrait, A-Z4, Aa-Dd4. (The errata leaf, here bound after the title, is usually tipped in between 4[par.]4 and 5[par.]1. In this copy [par.]4-4[par]4 are bound after sig.s a-c4, instead of before them.

“Sor Juana's earliest works were published individually in Mexico City beginning in 1680. The first collection of her writings was 'Inundación Castalida', published in Madrid by Juan Garcia Infanzon in 1689 and later as 'Poemas de la Unica Poetisa Americana'. With the publication of her writings she quickly gained a following in Spain, South America and Mexico, and became known as the Musa Dezima or Tenth Muse.


Medina, J.T. Biblioteca hispano-americana (1493-1810), 2013; Henríquez Ureña, P. Bibliografía de Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, 30; Palau y Dulcet, A. Manual del librero hispano-americano (2. ed.), 65226; Bibliotheca Americana: catalogue of the John Carter Brown Library in Brown University, books printed 1675-1700, p.416; European Americana 700/149

Marriage for Monks, Nuns, & Widows

Karlstadt, Andreas Rudolff-Bodenstein von (ca. 1480-1541)
De Coelibatv, Monachatv, et Vidvitate

[Basel: Andreas Cratander], 1521


Quarto: 20.5 x 15.5 cm. [32] p. Collation: a-d4

Karlstadt’s controversial critique of monasticism and his condemnation of clerical celibacy. In many instances and on many important matters, Karlstadt’s work and actions anticipate those of Luther (although the political and theological positions that motivated both men often differed). Karlstadt was the first of the reformers to publish his stance on the central problem of clerical celibacy; he himself married in January of 1522.


Freyes/ Barge 60; VD16 B 6123; Jackson 1739

Sumptuary Laws

Provisione et ordine sopra le Pompe, & vestire cosi di Donne come de gli Huomini, Apparati di Dote, & Banchetti, Di ordine dell’Ilustriss, & Reverendiss. Monsig. Gio. Battista Castagna Cardinale di San Marcello Legato di Bologna. Publicata in Bologna alli 19. & reiterata alli 23. Di Decembre. M D LXXXIIII.

Bologna: Per Alessandro Benacci, 1584


Quarto: 22 x 15.5 cm. (8) pages.

First edition of this revision of sumptuary laws regulating dress, dowry and feasts promulgated by Cardinal Gabriele Paleotti in 1568 and revised several times until the end of the century.

The dress code of women attracts particular attention, skirts are meant to be neither too long, nor too short; jewelry is to be worn in moderation.


Universal STC, no. 865850; R. Campioni, op. cit., p.148; M.G. Muzzarelli, ed., Le legislazioni suntuarie secoli XIII-XVI. Emilia Romagna, Rom, 2002, pp. 42-43; Z. Zanardi, ed., Bononia manifesta. Bandi, editti, costituzioni e provvedimenti diversi stampati nel XVI secolo per Bologna e il suo territorio, (Firenze, 1996), p. 226, no. 1555; R. Campioni, Libri di merlette e disposizioni suntuarie nel secolo XVI: alcune indicazioni per l’Emilia Romagna, in: “Le trame della moda”, A.G. Cavagna & G. Butazzi, eds., Roma, 1995, pp. 125-149, and P. Goretti, La regolamentazione delle apparenze: vesti e orna- menti nella legislazione suntuaria Bolognese del XVI secolo, in: “Schede umanistiche”, 1996, no. 2, pp. 117-137.

A Benedictine Nun Makes her Profession of Faith

Manuela de los Reyes, Sor
Profession of faith made by the Benedictine Nun Manuela de los Reyes. Text begins: “Ego Soror Manuela prommito (sic!) stabilitatem meam & conversionum morum meorum & obedentiam…” Manuscript on vellum.

[Toledo, Santa Olalla?] between 1667- 1698


Single vellum leaf 23.6 x 16.2 cm.

The Cistercian Sor Manuela  de los Reyes made her profession of faith (“I, Sister Manuela promise my stability, conversion of manners, and obedience..”) in the presence (coram) of the Abbess Francisca de Buitraga, at the convent of Nuestra Señora de la Piedad (Santa Olalla, in the province of Toledo?)  and Don Gabriel Sanz, Carlos II’s Visitor of Convents and patron of the Church of S.


Women’s Bodies, Women’s Souls – Lucrezia Marinella’s “The nobility and excellence of women and the defects and vices of Men”

Marinella [also Marinelli], Lucrezia (1571-1653)
La nobilta, et l'eccellenza delle donne, co' diffetti, et mancamenti de gli huomini. Discorso di Lucretia Marinella, in due parti diuiso. Nella prima si manifesta la nobilta delle donne co' forti ragioni, & infiniti essempi ... Nella seconda si conferma co' vere ragioni ... che i diffetti de gli huomini trapassano di gran lunga que' delle donne. Ricorretto, & accresciutto in questa seconda impressione.

Venice: Appresso Gio. Battista Ciotti sanese, all 1601


Quarto: 19.25 x 15.5 cm. [8], 326, [2] p. Collation: a4, A-V8, X4 (with blank X4)

A fine copy in contemporary parchment over boards, citron label tooled in gold on spine. Contents clean aside from 4 lvs. (G3-6) lightly browned and with early repair to short worm track, obscuring part of two-lines of text.


See also S. Kolsky, The literary career of Lucrezia Marinella (1571-1653), in: "Rituals, images, and words: varieties of cultural expression in late medieval and early modern Europe", F.W. Kent & Ch. Zika, eds., Turnhout, 2005, pp. 325-342).

Celia Romana's Love Letters

Romana, Celia (fl. 1562), pseudonym?
Lettere amorose ... scritte al suo Amante.

Venice: [Francesco Rampazetto for] Antonio degli Antoni, 1562


Octavo: [152] pp.

First edition of "Love letters written by Lady Celia, Roman gentlewoman, to her lover", one of the earliest collections of Renaissance Italian women's letters, one of the few collections addressed entirely to one recipient, and possibly "the most popular woman's letter book of the Renaissance.


Erdmann, My Gracious Silence, p. 210; Index Aureliensis VII, p. 262. BMSTC 164. Gay II, 795 (later eds). On authorship and contents: L. Matt, ‘Lettere “mal corrette” ma “scritte di cuore”: lingua e stile dell’epistolario amoroso di Celia Ro- mana’, in La comunicazione letteraria degli Italiani, ed. by D. Manca and G. Piroddi, Sassari 2017, pp. 129-148.

Celia Romana's Love Letters – An Untrimmed Copy

Romana, Celia (fl. 1562), pseudonym?
Lettere amorose ... scritte al suo Amante.

Venice: Iacomo Cornetti, 1584


Octavo: 16.8 x 12 cm. [152] pp. a-i8, k4

The "Love letters written by Lady Celia, Roman gentlewoman, to her lover", constitutes one of the earliest collections of Renaissance Italian women's letters, one of the few collections addressed entirely to one recipient, and possibly "the most popular woman's letter book of the Renaissance.


Erdmann, My Gracious Silence, p. 210; On authorship and contents: L. Matt, ‘Lettere “mal corrette” ma “scritte di cuore”: lingua e stile dell’epistolario amoroso di Celia Ro- mana’, in La comunicazione letteraria degli Italiani, ed. by D. Manca and G. Piroddi, Sassari 2017, pp. 129-148.

A West African Slave becomes a Nun in New Spain

SLAVERY. WOMEN. Gómez de la Parra, José; and Gómez de la Parra, Martinez
Fundacion, y primero siglo, del muy religioso Convento de Sr. S. Joseph de Religiosas Carmelitas Descalzas de la Ciudad de la Puebla de los Angeles, : en la Nueva España, el primero que se fundo en la America Septemtrional, en 27 de diziembre de 1604. Governando este obispado el illustrissimo señor doctor D. Diego Romano, quien lo erigiô, y fundô, en virtud de Breve apostolico de N.M.S.P. Clemente VIII. que con la subscripcion de capitulo 25. del libro 12. del tomo tercero de la Reforma de los Descalzos de Nuestra Señora del Carmen de la primitiva observancia, hecha por Santa Theresa de Jesus, en la antiquissima religion, fundada por el grande propheta Elias / escribe, y saca a luz el Dr. D. Joseph Gomez de la Parra, angelopolitano, colegial del Maior de Santos, magistral en la Santa Iglesia de Michoacan, y despues en esta de la Puebla, electo maestre escuela, examinador synodal en los dos obispados, cathedratico de prima de theologia, en los Reales Colegios de S. Pedro, y S. Juan de esta ciudad, y regente de sus estudios. ; Y por su fallecimiento, proseguida, por el doctor D. Joseph Martinez de la Parra, decano en la facultad de Sagrada Theologia, y calificador del Santo Officio de la Inquisicion de este reyno ; dedicada por las religiosas de este convento, a nuestra Sra. de el Carmen.

Puebla: Viuda de Miguel de Ortega, 1732


Folio: 28.6 x 19.5 cm. [18], 603, [7] p. Collation: pi² [sec.]-3[sec.]² 4[sec.]² ( -4[sec.]2) A-I² J-Z², Aa-Ii² Jj-Vv² 1-71² 73-103² chi² ( -chi2). For the peculiarities of the printed pagination, see JCB.

A history of the first Discalced Carmelite convent in New Spain (established in 1604), written by the Peruvian-born criollo theologian, José Gómez de la Parra, who preached in the Cathedral Church of Puebla and the city’s convents, and made use of the convent's archives while writing this work. The book include a description of the interior of the convent church, with details of the artworks, among them lienzos of the Life of Saint Teresa.


Medina, Puebla 388; Palau 104272; Sabin 27763

The First Printing of Two Attacks on Mary, Queen of Scots

STUART, MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS (1542-1587). Buchanan, George (1506-1582)
De Maria Scotorum Regina, totaque eius contra Regem coniuratione, foedo cum Bothuelio adulterio, nefaria in maritum crudelitate & rabie, horrendo insuper & deterrimo eiusdem parricidio: plena, & tragica planè historia.

N.p. but London: John Day, no date but 1571


Octavo: 14.2 x 8.8 cm. (2), 144, (4) pp. Collation: A-Q4

First edition of this famous denunciation of Mary, Queen of Scots, by the eminent scholar who had at one time been her tutor and ardent admirer. Buchanan's loyalty ended with the murder of Mary's cousin and husband Lord Darnley, and her hasty marriage to the Earl of Bothwell; he testified at her trial in London, where the notorious "casket letters" were produced as implicating Mary in Darnley's murder.


STC 3978; Scott, Mary Queen of Scots, 75; CBEL I, 2442

“Free Will, Bestowed on Men and Women Alike” - A Nun on the Plight of Women Religious

Tarabotti, Arcangela (1604-1652)
La semplicità ingannata. Di Galerana Baratotti.

Leiden: Gio. Sambix [i.e. Johannes and Daniel Elzevier], 1654


Duodecimo: 12.7 x 7 cm. (24), 307, 1 blank pp. Collation: [†]12, A-N12 (N11-12 blank)

This is the rare first edition of this polemic against paternal authority by the Benedictine nun Arcangela Tarabotti. In this work, originally titled “Tirannia paterna”, Tarabotti speaks against the injustice of the forced monachation of girls and women, arguing that “La divotion forzata/ Al signore non è grata” (Forced devotion to God is not freely given.


Willems, Les Elzevier, Nieuwkoop, 1974, p. 183, nr. 740; Berghman 1226; Rahir 744; Copinger 201. See Panizza-S. Wood, A History of Women’s Writing in Italy, Cambridge, 2000, p. 332

Love, Intimacy & Women’s Sexuality

Tullia d'Aragona (c. 1510–1556)
Dialogo della signora Tullia d'Aragona della infinità di amore.

Venice: Gabriel Giolito de Farrari, 1547


Octavo: 15.25 x 9.5 cm. 79, [1] leaves A-V4 (final leaf blank, present)

This is the rare first edition of “Dialogue on the Infinity of Love” (1547), Tullia d’Aragona’s philosophy of the complexity of love in all its aspects: sexual, spiritual, emotional, and intellectual. In her “Dialogue”, Aragona “gives a moral foundation to sexuality and implicitly offers a philosophical base for a positive evaluation of womanhood.”(Russell) An accomplished poet and philosophical thinker, Tullia d’Aragona was also one of the most famous courtesans of her age.


Adams A-1501; Salvatore Bongi, “Annali di Gabriel Giolito de Ferrari da Trino di Monferrato stampatore in Venezia.” (Roma: 1890-95) p. 199

A New “Hammer of Witches” for the 17th Century - An Excellent Copy

WITCHCRAFT. Del Rio, Martin Antoine, S.J. (1551-1608)
Disquisitionum Magicarum Libri Sex, Quibus Continentur Accurata Curiosarum Artium et vanarum superstitionum confutatio, utilis Theologis, Jurisconsultis, Medicis, Philologis. Autore Martino Del-Rio Societ. Iesu Presbyt. LL. Licent. et Theol. Doct. olim in Academia Graetcensi, et Salmanticensi, publico S. Script. Professore. Prodit Opus ultimis curis longe accuratius ac castigatius. Superiorum Permissu et Licentia.

Cologne: Sumptibus Hermanni Demen, 1679


Quarto: 21 x 17.5 cm. [14], 1221 (recte 1107), [48] p. Collation: *4, **4, A-Z4, Aa-Zz4, Aaa-Zzz4, Aaaa-Zzzz4, Aaaaa-Zzzzz4, Aaaaaa-Zzzzzz4, Aaaaaaa-Fffffff4, Ggggggg2

The Jesuit jurist Martín del Rio’s “Disquisitionum Magicarum Libri Sex” (Six Books of Disquisitions on Witches) was written about 1596 and first published in 1599. The book had enormous impact and was consulted and cited for over a century. Much in the book is understandably frightening. Vague guidance is given for determining if a person has made a pact with the devil, and the methods recommended for extracting confessions from accused sorcerers and witches are horrifying.


Faber du Four 1243. Graesse, Magica et Pneumatica, p. 47. Rosenthal 2903. VD 17 23:250512Y; Palau 268.284; de Backer-Sommervogel II, 1900

A Satire on Women's Fashion & The Transactional Nature of Courtship

WOMEN. CONDUCT. SATIRE. Evelyn, Mary (1665-1685)
Mundus Muliebris: or, the Ladies Dressing-Room unlock’d, and her Toilette spread. In Burlesque. Together with the Fop-Dictionary, compiled for the Use of the fair Sex.

London: Printed for R. Bentley, 1690


Quarto: 18 x 13.5 cm. [8], 22, [2, blank] p. Collation A-D4

Mary Evelyn's satirical poem, published after the author’s early death of smallpox in 1685. This second edition includes the repulsive recipe for the cosmetic known as “puppidog” (see below.


ESTC R31459; Wing E 3523; Keynes, John Evelyn (second edition, 1968), 101 (pp. 215-221)