New England Becoming Old: Anne Bradstreet and the Coterie of Ghosts

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Anne Bradstreet was a New England poet who wrote her first major poem in 1638, during a period of some crisis in the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s self-definition. In 1637, New Englanders consolidated their prominence in trade in part by massacring Pequot Indians, setting light to their villages and routing out survivors who were subsequently enslaved or put to death. In 1638, the Puritan Fathers secured the boundaries of orthodoxy in the new colony by banishing the Antinomian Anne Hutchinson and her followers, putting an end to a heated theological discussion and two trials that had lasted at least two years.1 Yet Bradstreet’s poem, composed the same year as the Hutchinson trial and only a year after the war against the Pequots, steadfastly ignored both these formative events punctuating early American history. Instead of celebrating Massachusetts Bay victories or meditating on the New England mission, Bradstreet chose to write an elegy to Sir Philip Sidney, that consummate Elizabethan courtier, poet, and neo-chivalric hero—who, by the time of Bradstreet’s composition, had been dead for over half a century.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEarly Modern Cultural Studies 1500-1700
Number of pages39
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameEarly Modern Cultural Studies 1500-1700
ISSN (Print)2634-5897
ISSN (Electronic)2634-5900


  • Direct Address
  • Heroic Action
  • Military Exploit
  • Mother Country
  • Woman Writer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • General Arts and Humanities
  • Linguistics and Language


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