chapter  4
26 Pages

The Genre of Self-Interest in the Poetry of Isabella Whitney and Aemilia Lanyer

Timon of Athens and the New Atlantis explore the deleterious social consequences of the suppression of self-interest, either in the individual himself or by a paternalistic system. Other authors during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries also portrayed inadequate responses to their own authorial self-interest, though often by necessity in coded ways. Early modern women writers with an interest in their own literary success, for example, faced proscriptions against writing for profit, either personal or economic. Isabella Whitney and Aemilia Lanyer are particularly illustrative of the subtle ways female poets addressed the financial pressures of the early modern female writer. Each manipulates genre conventions to assert a private and emotional obligation upon those in positions to aid them in the public marketplace.