Women's Writing Before Woolf: A Social Reference/Lucy Hutchinson (1620–1681)

Lucy HutchinsonEdit

Biography:Edit

Lucy Hutchinson was born on 29th of January, 1620 at the Tower of London to Sir Allen Apsley, Lieutenant of the Tower and Lucy St John. She was the second of ten children.

In her incomplete autobiographical manuscript, Lucy speaks of a dream her mother had whilst pregnant with her. In the dream, her mother was walking with her father in a garden, when a star came down to her hand. Lucy’s parents saw this as “signifying” that “she (her mother) should have a daughter of extraordinary eminency.” (Mayer, 309) As a result, her parents engaged her heavily in study and education; Lucy had eight tutors by the time she was seven. (A Chronology of Lucy Hutchinson). Scholar Robert Mayer details her schooling more specifically, “…she could ‘read English perfectly’ at the age of four…” and was taught languages such as Latin, music, dancing and writing (309). Her father died in 1630, when Lucy was ten.

On 3rd July 1630, aged eighteen she married Colonel John Hutchinson in London. They move to the family estate, Owthorpe in 1641 and in 1643, John is appointed Nottingham Governor. In 1649, John commits regicide by signing the death warrant for King Charles I. Lucy tries to intervene on his behalf by forging a letter in his hand, a written retraction for his treasonous actions to the Speaker of the House of the Commons. (Lobo, 317) He is pardoned, but despite this, he is imprisoned at Sandown Castle and dies in 1664. (Cook, 271). She wrote one of her most famous works after his death, Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson, chronicling his life and attempting to rewrite his public persona as a traitor. Lucy was a devoted wife, declaring that after John died; “Soe, as his shadow, she waited on him, every where till he was taken into that region of light which admits of none, and then she vanisht into nothing.” (Burrows and Craig, 260). She continued to write until her death in 1681 at the family home, Owthorpe. (Life of Lucy Hutchinson) She was buried in her husband’s tomb.

Works:Edit

Lucy was a prolific and varied writer, counting poetry, biography, songs, translations and letters amongst her many literary works. Some works such as her songs and the translation of John Owen’s Theologoumean Pantodapa, are considered lost but she has many surviving works.

Her works in chronological order, according to the Oxford University’s Centre for Early Modern Studies:

• 1637: composes songs, but these are lost.

• 1650’s: translates Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura.

• 1660-4: writes parts of Order and Disorder.

• 1664-71: Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson and Elegies.

• 1673? Translation of John Owen’s Theologoumena Pantodapa.

She wrote a devotional text called On the Principles of Christian Religion, based on her strong beliefs as a Puritan. She penned an unfinished manuscript called The Life of Mrs Hutchinson as Written by Herself, a character study of her husband called, To My Children and a record called The Notebook. (Looser, 31). She also had two commonplace books. (Mayer, 305).


Reputation/Legacy:Edit

Lucy is largely celebrated having a “posthumous reputation as a national treasure.” (Loosey, 28). Her account of her husband’s life in Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson is an invaluable glimpse into the English Civil War era as an important historical document (Wilcox and Ottway, 70) as well as its significance as an example of women’s writing in the seventeenth century. Her translation of John Owen’s Theologoumena Pantodapa as well as Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura, set her apart as a skilled and ambitious author. She is considered the first named translator for De Rerum Natura into English and was responsible for making it accessible to the public. (Goldberg, 275). Her work, Order and Disorder, is important as it retells the biblical story of Adam and Eve from Eve’s perspective. It is arguably the first epic poem written in English by a woman. (Wikipedia).


References:Edit

1.^a “A Chronology of Lucy Hutchinson’s Writings Page.” The Centre for Early Modern Studies, University of Oxford. Accessed 27th April 2021.

2.^b, d Mayer, Robert. “Lucy Hutchinson: A Life of Writing.” The Seventeenth Century, vol.22, no.2, 2013, pp.305-335.


3.^c Lobo, Iacono, Giuseppina. “Lucy Hutchison’s Revisions of Conscience.” English Literary Renaissance, vol.42, no.2, 2012, pp.317-341.


4. ^e Cook, Susan. “’The Story I Most Particularly Intend’: The Narrative Style of Lucy Hutchinson.” Critical Survey, vol.5, no.3, 1993, 271-277.


5. ^f  Burrows, John and Craig, Hugh. “Lucy Hutchinson and the Authorship of Two Seventeenth-Century Poems: A Computational Approach.” The Seventeenth Century, vol.16, no.2, 2013, pp.259-282.


6. ^g “The Life of Lucy Hutchinson Page.” Centre for Early Modern Studies, University of Oxford. Accessed 27th April, 2021.


7. ^h “A Chronology of Lucy Hutchinson’s Writings Page.” The Centre for Early Modern Studies, University of Oxford. Accessed 27th April 2021.


8. ^i Looser, Devoney. “The True and Romantic History of Lucy Hutchinson’s Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson.” In British Women Writers and the Writing of History 1670-1820, 2000, pp.28-60.


9. ^j Mayer, Robert. “Lucy Hutchinson: A Life of Writing.” The Seventeenth Century, vol.22, no.2, 2013, pp.305-335.


10. ^k Wilcox, Helen and Ottway, Sheila. “Women’s Histories.” In The Cambridge Companion to Writing of the English Revolution, edited by N.H. Keeble, Cambridge University Press, 2001, pp.8-19.

 

11. ^l Goldberg, Jonathon. “Lucy Hutchinson Writing Matter.” ELH, vol.73, no.1, 2006, pp.275-301.


12.^m “Lucy Hutchinson.” Wikipedia. Accessed on 27th April 2021.



Further reading:Edit

Hutchinson, Lucy. Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson. Cambridge University Press, 2013. doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511732409

Hirst, Derek. “Remembering a hero: Lucy Hutchinson’s Memoirs of Her Husband.” The English Historical Review, vol.119, no.482, pp.682-691. www.jstor.org/stable/3489504

Mayer, Robert. “Lucy Hutchinson: A Life of Writing.” The Seventeenth Century, vol.22, no.2, 2013, pp.305-335. doi.org/10.1080/0268117X.2007.10555597

Norbrook, David. “Memoirs and Oblivion: Lucy Hutchinson and the Restoration.” Huntington Library Quarterly, vol.75, no.2, 2012, pp.233-282. www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/hlq.2012.75.2.233