“The Author to her Book” by Anne Bradstreet

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In this research paper, I chose to write about Anne Bradstreet. She is one of the American poets. She was born on March 20, 1612, in Northampton, the United Kingdom, and died September 16, 1672, North Andover, MA. She was the first person in America to have a large volume of poems published. She was among the group of early English settlers in Massachusetts in the 1630s. She was the former Assistant Professor of English at Wheaton College, Norton, Massachusetts. She was one of the American most distinguished poets with a renaissance literary style that she encountered in her native England; the other was a strict Puritan upbringing that would be the controlling factor of her life in the colonies. Both of these influences put a strong emphasis on order and a hierarchical structure. Bradstreet was unable to accept either of these influences completely, but she did manage to combine them in order to create some of the most interesting and memorable poetry of her time.

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More to that, the conflict that she faces is evident in her more formal writing through her use of voices and argumentation. Her later, more domestic poetry reveals an attempt to express her own voice and doubts about the Puritan faith, particularly its doctrine concerning the dangers of becoming attached to earthly things. One of the distinguishing characteristics of Puritanism is its strong emphasis on rules and order, particularly God’s order. However, it seems that Anne Bradstreet’s place in God’s order was difficult for her to determine, as evidenced through her continuing struggle for a strong conviction of her faith. Although she was privileged in her New England community, Puritan doctrine and culture placed her -as a female- near the bottom of the hierarchy of the community of Saints. Bradstreet struggled with the conflict between her own emotions and the Puritan doctrine for most of her life, and this conflict can be seen clearly in her writing.

I think the future class will gain a lot from Anne Bradstreet poem because her work has been translated into many languages and is considered for it particularly significant of its expression of passion, anger, and uncertainty within the rigid social and religious atmosphere of Puritan New England, and for the insight, it provides into the lives of women from that period. Anne Bradstreet’s poetry and prose are accessible to anyone. That is, her poetry is easy to read and understand. This is why I will encourage her work for the future class because her literary works have a lot of messages like the life of people during the early times of American history.

Moreover, “The Author to Her Book” is a poem that deals with the question of authorial agency, and the amount of control that an author has over his or her writing. Bradstreet clearly has a strong attachment to her work, so much that she refers to it as a child to which she gave birth to. In the opening line, she refers to the book as ‘thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain. The poem is one of Bradstreet’s most widely studied and analyzed poems. The entire poem is an allegory filled with metaphors about a mother’s creation of the essence of her child. for example, she said:

My rambling brat should mother call,

I cast thee by as one unfit for light,

The visage was so irksome in my sight

Yet being my own, at length affection would

They blemish amend if so, I could (Bradstreet).

In this passage, she thinks that her book may not be good enough for reading, because there are still many flaws in it. These words came from her mind, she understands the faults are also with her writing, and she would fix them if she could. However, this can be viewed as a metaphor for a mother-child relationship. The mother’s very talkative and opinionated child may not be taken lightly out in the real world. The child is frustrating to look at and accept because he or she is the spitting image of herself. The personality flaws they possess were handed down to them by her and therefore cannot be reversed. Another example is seen when Bradstreet writes, “If for thy father asked, say though hadst none and for the mother, she alas is poor Which caused her thus to send thee out the door” (Bradstreet). I think she means that this book does not have, nor does it need another author. She created it on her own. But she needed money, which is why she wrote the book, and why she is trying to sell it Alternatively, this mother-child metaphor could also mean that if the child is asked where her father is, she should respond that they are not in the picture. But because her mother is so poor, she was sent out into the world to make money for the family, as often was the case in the seventeenth century.

In addition, Anne Bradstreet’s poetry is what captivated her audience and allowed her to become the female poetic influence and these have set her aside from other literary writers. She had to compete with men in and Puritan society that she grappled with full understanding. Once she started writing about her family and about other religious concepts, her poetry made a lot of imparting. All Through ‘The Author to Her Book’, Bradstreet compares the writing of her book to motherhood: her book is her ‘offspring’ to which she gave ‘birth’; she refers to herself as ‘thy mother’. She is reminding us that she is a woman, true, but she is also slotting herself into an established tradition of male writers who had likened poetic creation to siring a child. Like any protective mother, she wishes to keep it close and does not want it released into the world until it is strong enough, or perhaps even at all. Her struggle to maintain agency over the book shows when she claims it was ‘snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true, who thee abroad exposed to public view.’ This is believed to refer, as previously mentioned, to the fact that Bradstreet’s brother-in-law took the book with him to England in 1650 and had it published. These lines suggest that Woolridge acted against Bradstreet’s wishes; they also reflect the scrutiny that women authors faced during this period when they were expected to parrot the opinions of men rather than express their own. Many of Bradstreet’s poems are intimate verses about her marriage, as well as reflections on religion and spirituality.

The poem also explores the idea of art for the sake of utility versus entertainment. Bradstreet might have written for her own amusement and for that of close family and friends, but in the poem’s final lines, she declares, ‘And for thy Mother, she alas is poor, Which caused her thus to send thee out of the door. She used her passion for writing poetry to help her cope with the unfamiliar environment as well as her views of Puritanism (Martin). Bradstreet’s literary devices stand out in her poetry from this era and reflect her emotional connection and expression of life in the new world. With any writer or poet, the product will develop more depth over a period of time because of practice, experience, competition, or additional learning of the craft. While trying to make her mark in the realm of poetry in a man’s world, Bradstreet had to make sure her poems stood out amongst the crowd.

In conclusion, the major literary movement that Anne Bradstreet fit in is the American Romanticism movement. American Romanticism is also known as the American Renaissance. This was the first literary movement in the United State. It was the literary movement that was prevalent that period when Anne Bradstreet was writing her poems. Her technique, content, and form of writing greatly impacted the American Romanticism movement. Her work involves the use of imagery, the questioning of the meaning of life, and nature. This is what made her work different from other writers. Over the years, her work has been praised for issues such as nature and religion. 

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"The Author To Her Book" By Anne Bradstreet. (2021, Jul 27). Retrieved December 3, 2022 , from

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