Edited by James Fitzmaurice
Routledge – 1997 – 264 pages
Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673), Duchess of Newcastle and one of the best-known women writers of the her time, is enjoying a revival in the wake of Aphra Behn's canonization: She appears in the Norton Anthology of English Literature her poetry will appear in a new edition, and Penguin has recently reprinted her science-fiction novel The Blazing World. This is an edition of her hilarious and rowdy letters, unavailable since their original publication in 1664 Margaret Cavendish: Sociable Letters is a window into the world of 17th-century marriage and daily life displaying a pleasing blend of the comic, the ironic, and the serious. Along the way, the author provides us with the first detailed criticism of Shakespeare's plays, which she defends against the Restoration distaste for low characters. She also comments on food, home remedies, the English Civil Wars, religious fanaticism, street entertainers, churchgoing as a way to find a husband, and winter sports. This edition offers a full introduction to Cavendish's life and works, a bibliography, and detailed notes, and takes account of hand-corrections made at the author's behest.