Lucy Hutchinson’s Everyday War: The 1640s Manuscript and her Restoration ‘Elegies’

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This essay argues that the seventeenth-century British writer, Lucy Hutchinson, experiments with the form and content of her early prose and late poetry in ways that reveal the everyday dimensions of warfare, as it was experienced on the ground and in the periodical news of the period. During the mid-1640s, in the midst of the civil wars, Hutchinson produced an untitled manuscript, an episodic narrative of local war that overlaps with print journalism. After the Restoration, she produced a series of manuscript poems that combine Parliamentary elegies for soldiers with the genres of aubade and nocturne to criticize a public violence now concentrated in the monarchal state. As Hutchinson shifts from composing a kind of war correspondence that supports the war effort to a species of war elegy critical of state hostilities, she frames armed conflict not as an exceptional event but as a form of business as usual: it depends on and reshapes the infrastructures, spaces, emotions, and habits of quotidian life and becomes, in its turn, a normalized version of that life. Across different contexts and genres, then, she helps reveal the key role of the ordinary in war alongside the ways war itself becomes ordinary, part of the real and journalistic everyday. [C.G.].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-106
Number of pages31
JournalEnglish Literary Renaissance
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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