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Anne Bradstreet

Anne Bradstreet

3.5 9
by D.B. Kellogg

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Christian Encounters, a series of biographies from Thomas Nelson Publishers, highlights important lives from all ages and areas of the Church. Some are familiar faces. Others are unexpected guests. But all, through their relationships, struggles, prayers, and desires, uniquely illuminate our shared experience

When she arrived in the New


Christian Encounters, a series of biographies from Thomas Nelson Publishers, highlights important lives from all ages and areas of the Church. Some are familiar faces. Others are unexpected guests. But all, through their relationships, struggles, prayers, and desires, uniquely illuminate our shared experience

When she arrived in the New World at eighteen, Anne Bradstreet was a reluctant passenger:

her old, comfortable lifestyle in England was quickly dashed against the rocks of the Massachusetts

Bay. While the wilderness of America and the drama of establishing the Massachusetts Bay Colony at times overwhelmed her, she always took refuge in the belief that it was God’s plan.  Anne respected the Puritan teachings and followed them her entire life, always searching for God’s hand in everything around her. But she also was inspired by a strong female leader of the day, Queen Elizabeth, and

this influence taught Anne to push herself beyond the day’s limitations. She managed her home, educated her children, encouraged her husband, and sought her Lord—all with a poet’s heart.


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Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2010 Master Sales, Inc.
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ISBN: 978-1-59555-109-2

Chapter One


Anne's story begins in Northampton, in the central part of England about sixty miles northwest of London as the crow flies. Born there in 1612, Anne was the second child of Thomas and Dorothy Dudley. They already had four-year-old Samuel, who was to remain their only son. Thomas and Dorothy had married in 1603, the year of Queen Elizabeth's death.

Anne's mother, Dorothy Yorke, was born in 1582 in the county of Northamptonshire; she was "a gentlewoman both of good estate and good extraction." Dorothy's father was Edmund Yorke, a yeoman. At that time, a yeoman was a landowner who worked the land, withor without laborers, depending on his wealth. He was a member of what was regarded as the middle class.

Thomas Dudley was born in October of 1576 in Yardley Hastings near Northampton to Captain Roger Dudley and his wife, Susanna, née Thorne. Genealogists and historians still debate Roger's connection to the poet Sir Philip Sidney and to the Sutton-Dudleys of Dudley Castle in Worcestershire, but Thomas seemed sure of the connection. Through his maternal side of the family, Thomas was a descendant of Henry II of England. Thomas was just a boy when his father was killed in battle, fighting for Queen Elizabeth I, and he was an early teen when his mother died. Family friends provided a home for the orphan, who had been left u500 in trust. They made certain that the young man received a good education, and eventually he became a page for a family of nobility in Northampton. Having a position as a page was no small thing then; he was not like a menial servant. Among other tasks, he learned how to oversee an estate.

With Queen Elizabeth I on the throne, the nation rose to a powerful position in the world, and her policies united the country. She said, "Be ye ensured that I will be as good unto you as ever a Queen was to her People," and she meant it. She did not let her people down. The economy flourished. The queen's forty-five-year reign was a golden age of overseas expansion and trade, literature and the arts, and scientific thought. Navigator and historian Sir Walter Raleigh, explorer Sir Francis Drake, philosopher Francis Bacon, mathematician and physicist Sir Isaac Newton, poets Sir Philip Sidney and Edmund Spenser, and playwrights William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, and Ben Jonson thrived. Queen Elizabeth reinstated the Church of England (the Anglican Church) as the state religion and confirmed Protestant doctrine with the Act of Supremacy and the Act of Uniformity, but she did not declare war against her Catholic subjects. All of her accomplishments are even more remarkable given the state of the nation she inherited, which was in dire financial straits and suffered religious turmoil between Catholics and Protestants.

Queen Elizabeth I commissioned Thomas Dudley, then age twenty or twenty-one, as a captain to command eighty volunteers from Northampton. They joined the forces of Henry IV of France against Philip II of Spain and participated in the six-month siege of Amiens in 1597. Henry's forces succeeded in regaining the city from the Spaniards. Dudley and his volunteers did not actually fight while in France, but they gained experience as soldiers in the field.

Upon his return from France, Dudley became a clerk for his mother's kinsman Judge Nicholls in Northampton. Nicholls was considered a fair judge and a man of integrity. In addition to learning law from him, Dudley accompanied the judge to London for court-related matters, and there he witnessed some of the best legal minds in the land at work. The lessons in law and justice paid off in Dudley's future in unanticipated ways for him, his family, and his country. He worked for Nicholls until the judge's death.

By 1620, the Dudleys moved north to Sempringham when forty-four-year-old Thomas became the steward of Theophilus Clinton, the fourth Earl of Lincoln. Educated at Cambridge, the nineteen-year-old earl had inherited the family estates, along with substantial debts of about u20,000 that dated back to his grandfather's profligate days. He did not have the skills to oversee the estates by himself, and men who had been hired to help him achieve a sound financial position had failed miserably. Dudley was recommended as a trustworthy man with the business acumen to guide the earl out of his debt. Never one to be deterred by a challenge, Dudley went to work and saw to it that the earl was not only free of debt but also making a substantial profit each year. It was said that the grateful earl did no "business of moment without Mr. Dudley's counsel."

Sempringham proved to be a wonderful place for the Dudley children to grow up. Samuel and Anne welcomed two sisters, Patience and Sarah, before the move, and Mercy joined the family within a year of the move. As the eldest sister, Anne helped her mother with the young ones, and she took that duty seriously. But dozens of servants took care of most tasks in the upper-class surroundings of the earl's home. The children were well acquainted with the earl's family members who lived on the main estate or nearby: the earl's mother, Elizabeth; his wife, Bridget, the Countess of Lincoln, whom he married in 1622; his children; and his siblings Lady Arbella and Lady Susan, among others. (The earl had at least nine brothers and sisters.) Even if the Dudley children were not active participants in the family's entertaining, sometimes with dancing and music, they watched the goings-on. From the nobles they learned fine manners that complemented what they learned from their mother.

For Anne, having access to the earl's library was a delightful part of her years on the estate. Although their father did not neglect the education of any of his children, he took special interest in that of Anne. They shared a love of books that was a typical for a father and a daughter, especially in that era-a favorite was Sir Walter Raleigh's History of the World-and that bond remained strong until the end of each one's life. Anne seemed taken with poetry, especially poems by Guillame de Salluste Du Bartas, a Frenchman. Like most Puritan girls and women, Anne was taught to read so that she could better understand the Scriptures and eventually teach them to her young children before they could read. Not all Puritan females were taught to write, however. Anne learned to do both well, and existing copies of her handwriting show a firm, clear hand.

The English Scriptures influenced both the daily life and the language of the English people. Although it was not the first Bible to be translated into English, the Geneva Bible of 1560, dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I, was the first Bible to number the verses, and it also had helpful marginal notes, which contributed to the Bible's popularity. Shakespeare read it, and the translators of the King James Bible used it as a source. Queen Elizabeth's successor, King James I, commissioned the new version at the behest of a large number of English ministers, and in 1611, the year before Anne's birth, the King James Version appeared. Here is an example of the two versions for Psalm 46:1:


God is our hope and strength, God is our refuge and strength, and help in troubles, a very present help in trouble. ready to be found.

And here is Genesis 3:7:

GENEVA BIBLE KING JAMES VERSION They sewed fig leaves together They sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves breeches. and made themselves aprons.

Anne and her family had both the King James and the Geneva versions, and they used them in discussions of and meditations on Scripture. Thomas and Dorothy Dudley established a pattern of daily prayers for the family, and Thomas read psalms aloud and talked about the sermons they heard at church. Anne clearly was paying attention to what she heard in church from the minister and to the devotions at home led by her father, and she took the lessons to heart, even as a youngster. Years later she wrote that she became aware of her sinful ways at age six or seven. She did her best to avoid lying and disobeying her parents, but she was not always successful. She was troubled when she felt overtaken with such evils, and she could not rest until she confessed all in prayer to God. She was also "troubled at the neglect of Private Duties [meditating and praying in private]," and she felt she was "too often tardy that way." Reading Scriptures, however, comforted her, and the more she understood, the more solace she found in them.

Reared as faithful members of the Church of England, the Dudley family gradually embraced Puritanism. Many Puritans who fled England with the rise of the Catholic Queen Mary had returned when Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne. While in Northampton, Dudley had become fond of certain ministers, and he was leaning toward their Puritan beliefs. At the time of son Samuel's birth, Thomas and Dorothy attended All Saints Church, but in Sempringham they were surrounded by Puritanism. Many "learned and able Puritan ministers, busily engaged in stirring the hearts of people with political and religious principles," lived and preached in the nearby town of Boston (also in Lincolnshire). With their growing influence on him, Dudley became a "zealous asserter" of Puritanism, and Anne felt that influence too.

A brief history lesson on Puritanism is in order here. Perhaps the most concise definition of Puritanism comes from the illustrious and plain-speaking historian Samuel Eliot Morison, who wrote, "Puritanism was a way of life based on the belief that the Bible was the word of God, and the whole word of God. Puritans were the Englishmen who endeavored to live according to that light." The term came to refer to English Protestants who "wished to carry out the Reformation to its logical conclusion, and purge the Anglican Church of forms and ceremonies for which there was no warrant in the Bible." Puritanism had both religious and moral aspects.

King Henry VIII was responsible for making Anglicanism, instead of Catholicism, the state church of England in 1534, and within twenty years, English Puritanism gained a foothold. The Puritans considered Anglican clergy poorly educated and unskilled at preaching. Puritans opposed kneeling at Communion, exchanging rings in marriage, and having a cross in church because all those signs reflected Catholicism. As far as the Puritans were concerned, baptism and Communion were the only two biblical sacraments.

Puritanism did not equal Calvinism, but they shared similar doctrinal points:

Total depravity (humanity's utter corruption since the Fall) Unconditional election (the idea that God had decreed who was damned and who was saved from before the beginning of the world) Limited atonement (the idea that Christ died for the elect only) Irresistible grace (regeneration as entirely a work of God, which cannot be resisted and to which the sinner contributes nothing) Perseverance of the saints (the elect, despite their backsliding and faintness of heart, cannot fall away from grace)

Around 1624, Thomas Dudley left his job as steward for the Earl of Lincoln and moved the family to Boston. There they worshipped at St. Botolph's, where the pastor was John Cotton. St. Botolph's was (and is) a very large, impressive church built from 1309 to 1390. A Puritan leader who looked up to John Calvin, Cotton had attended Emmanuel College at Cambridge University. Emmanuel College has been called a "nursery of Puritanism" because many of the "staunchest" early Puritans attended there or were taught by its graduates. Cotton learned his lessons well, not the least of which was an extensive knowledge of Hebrew, and he was a compelling speaker. His friendship with the Dudley family soon had an important bearing on Anne's future.

The timing is somewhat murky about when Thomas Dudley returned to his job as steward for the Earl of Lincoln. It is certain that in 1626 the earl was imprisoned in the Tower of London for opposing a "loan" demanded by King Charles I, who had succeeded James I in 1625. Charles I was no friend of the Puritans, and the earl was no friend of the king.

The Dudleys were definitely back in Sempringham with the earl by 1628 because Anne was stricken with smallpox that year and she was treated on the estate. Her health from childhood was never robust, and she experienced various serious illnesses throughout her life. Her constant prayer to God was to set her free from her afflictions. As a young child, she had had a fever that confined her to bed for some time, and even then she was given to introspection about her faith. As an adult, Anne recalled the events of that episode and wrote:

My burning flesh in sweat did boil, My aching head did break; From side to side for ease I toil, So faint I could not speak. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . O, heal my Soul, thou know'st I said, Though flesh consume to naught; What though in dust it shall be laid, To glory it shall be brought. Thou heard, thy rod thou did remove, And spared my Body frail. . . . O, Praises to my mighty God, Praise to my Lord, I say, Who hath redeemed my Soul from [the] pit.

A fever accompanied the smallpox that overtook her, and after she recovered, Anne praised God for saving her, although it was apparently a close call. The deadly disease had no cure or means of prevention in the 1600s, and the treatment provided little, if any, relief and probably contributed even more to the sufferer's weakness.

When Anne complained of slight fever accompanied by a headache (or backache), her parents were concerned. But when a rash appeared a few days later and her fever spiked, their concern grew to alarm because they knew that she had smallpox. She was confined to bed, covered with blankets, and placed near a fire. The room was kept dark. Instead of water to drink, she was given hot ale or a mixture of bitter herbs. In addition to having painful skin eruptions that could result in scarring, Anne's internal organs could have been damaged. Severe cases of smallpox resulted in blindness and even death caused by toxemia or hemorrhaging; sometimes secondary infections killed the sufferer. The usual course of the disease was run within two weeks. Of course, the recovery time depended on the individual, and Anne's recovery was prolonged.

No painting exists to show us what Anne looked like, but her face must not have been scarred by the lesions. A relative wrote, "There needs no painting to that comely face, / That in its native beauty hath such grace."

While she was recovering, she had plenty of time to think, and years later Anne wrote that "the Lord laid his hand sore upon me" with the smallpox, and she "confessed [her] Pride and Vanity" to him. She was grateful to the Lord for restoring her, but she believed that she "rendered not to him according to the benefit received."

Anne felt the need to confess more to God. The stirrings began when she was "about fourteen or fifteen," she wrote, and she found her "heart more carnal and sitting loose from God," and "vanity and the follies of youth" taking hold of her. The stirrings most likely had to do with the handsome young man Simon Bradstreet, who was nine years older than she and worked on the Sempringham estate with her father. Whether it was his kindness, his intelligence, or his good looks-or all three-she was smitten with him. And at some point he was taken with her.

Simon came to the estate in 1622 after he had been at Emmanuel College following his father's death; he eventually earned a BA and an MA at that college. Rev. John Cotton knew both the Bradstreet and the Dudley families, and he discussed the young man's future with Thomas Dudley. Glad to have someone to help him and pleased by Simon's upbringing and education, Dudley agreed to train Bradstreet as an assistant steward.

Portraits survive of Bradstreet as an older man, and he has been described as having a "broad, benignant forehead," "clear, dark eyes," and a "firm, well-cut nose." His father was from a wealthy family in Suffolk, and he, too, attended Emmanuel College. When Simon was born, the elder Bradstreet was a Nonconformist minister (meaning he did not conform to the ceremonies of the Church of England) at Horbling in Lincolnshire, and Simon attended grammar school there.


Excerpted from ANNE BRADSTREET by D. B. KELLOGG Copyright © 2010 by Master Sales, Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

D. B. Kellogghas a passion for telling people's stories. She is the author or coauthor of several biographies, institutional histories, family histories, and the performing arts history of Nashville, Tennessee.

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Anne Bradstreet 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Trish-B More than 1 year ago
Anne Bradstreet, a new biography written by D. B. Kellogg, published by Thomas Nelson Publishers is obviously a non-fiction book about Anne Bradstreet's life. The book covers Anne's entire life, which began when she was born in 1612. In order to better understand Anne, details were given about her family and culture around her. A Puritan and poet, she was born in England, and after being married for only two years, Anne and her husband, as well as her parents, immigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. I received this book from the publisher and chose it because I wanted to learn about Anne's life. Before reading this book, I could not have told you when she was born or what she was known for. I have mixed feelings about this book. Sometimes it was interesting, and other times I felt like I was reading a textbook. The writing was fine, just boring at times. The information flowed well, starting at the beginning of Anne's life and continuing to her death in chronological order. If you are looking to learn more about Anne Bradstreet's life, you may enjoy this book. It's not very long, being only 152 pages. She seemed to be an impressive woman, who was serious about her faith her entire life. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the <a href="http://www.BookSneeze.com">BookSneeze.com</a> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html
SouthernGirlLovesToRead More than 1 year ago
For a good light-hearted read, this is not your book. However, for a book with historical accuracy and detail, I thought this book hit the mark. I was looking for a book to enrich my understanding of the history of Colonial America. This book details the lives of not only Anne Bradstreet, but many of the other colonists who came to America looking for religious freedom. I very much enjoyed the story of Anne Bradstreet, who seemed, in spite of her Puritan faith, very much a Renaissance woman. She was able to be completely devoted to her family, yet have many interests of her own. She was highly respected and accomplished much in her own way.
JudithCEvans More than 1 year ago
Kellogg's biography of American Puritan poet Anne Bradstreet provides a detailed glimpse into Colonial American life. Family, political, and cultural history--including the tragic witch trials--combine with excerpts from Bradstreet's elegant poems. Kellogg describes the people and ideas which shaped Bradstreet's life, and the fact that she managed to write and publish without rattling Puritan sensibilities. I enjoyed this enlightening book from the very beginning. The dedication to "all women who have been ahead of their time" captured my interest. I was inspired by Kellogg's portrayal of Bradstreet's intellect, which encompassed science, faith, and history. She even used her poems as teaching tools for her children. I heartily recommend this book for everyone, especially poets and students of women's history. Thank you to Thomas Nelson,Inc., who provided me with a free copy of this book. All opinions stated in this review are my own.
ReneeK More than 1 year ago
Anne Bradstreet was the first women poet to be published in Colonial America. I have read many of her poems and have always enjoyed the way she touched your heart with them. I was not familiar with her life or all her struggles before reading her biography. Knowing the history of her has made her poems have much more meaning. She faced many challenges that are reflected in her poetry. Anne's poetry shows her character, her thoughts, her love for her family and her faith and trust in the Lord. I have to say that this was one of the most detailed biographies that I have read since my college days. It is a very detailed in the history of England involving King Charles I and his opposition to the Puritans. A lot of the culture of the 1600's is explained in much detail. Many experts of Anne's poetry is included throughout the book. Anne was born in England in a well to do family. She married at 16. Two years later her husband, parents and siblings reluctantly relocated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony due to the increasingly troubles brewing on the political and religious fronts, which demanded the couple to make a difficult and life changing decision. Her family is one of the first pioneers to the New England Colony. A lot of details are explained in establishing a community in the new homeland. The author explains much of the Puritan's belief and way of life. The author did a great job of showing her spiritual life. and her admiration of Queen Elizabeth and the influence the Queen had on her life which created a strong but gentle courage in Anne's character. I would recommend this book. I enjoyed learning about the intriguing life of Anne Bradstreet. I have to say that it was a hard to read book at times and made my head spin with all the historical and culture details. Then the book would lighten up some and it would be easier to navigate through. This is one of the books that I usually keep by the night stand or end table next to the couch. I would read it in bits and pieces over several months. For the sake of this review, I read it in a relatively short time. It was a well worth time that I spent reading it. The book has many resources and it looks like it was well researched. Disclosure of Material Connection: Thomas Nelson Publishers provided me this Book free as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To be honest, I did not know very much about Anne Bradstreet before reading this biography, except for a little of what I learned about her a few years ago in an English literature class in high school, especially including the wonderful poem "To My Dear and Loving Husband." I don't generally read biographies, but this one caught my eye because of my desire to learn more about Bradstreet's poetry and her Christian lifestyle as a Puritan. The book chronicles Anne and her husband's move to and experiences in colonial America and Anne's spiritual and poetic lifestyle. I felt that the author of this biography did a great job of detailing the history of the Puritans' move from England to the "New World", though I admittedly sometimes found the historical readings to grow tedious at times, particularly during the first half of the book, and I instead wanted to read more about Anne Bradstreet's own personal experiences. I also found the writing to be a bit bland and perhaps I would recommend this as being more suited to a middle or high school reading level with research purposes in mind. With that said, however, I did learn a lot about Bradstreet and the Puritan life itself in the few pages of this book, and I do greatly appreciate the "Christian Encounters" viewpoint. I received this book for free from the Thomas Nelson publishing company as part of their BookSneeze book review program. I was not required to write a positive review; my opinions, therefore, are completely unbiased.
BlueAndWhite More than 1 year ago
I don't typically read that many biographies, but the biography of Anne Bradstreet intrigued me because she was a rather famous Puritan and a poet at that. This biography chronicles her life and the lives of most of the people she encountered on a regular basis. Interwoven between stories are bits of poetry that she had written. Overall, I liked the poetry, but the biography was rather dry. I liked the fact that the author was able to compare Puritan life to current-life Boston. Since we recently traveled to Boston, I was able to recognize places and events. That was pretty exciting for me. However, the style of writing used in this biography (very short, to the point sentences) didn't really pull on my interest that much. I'd recommend it for the poetry and maybe the biography of Anne Bradstreet, but not for the writing style. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com &lt;http://BookSneeze.com&gt; book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 &lt;http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html&gt; : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was deeply thrilled with a book from Thomas Nelson, the book being ANNE BRADSTREET by D. B. Kellogg. It is a biography in the Christian Encounters series. Thomas Nelson offered many titles in the series, yet I chose the one about Anne Bradstreet because I am related distantly to her through marriage. Unlike dry biographies, this one read as smoothly as a novel. It includes an introduction, fourteen chapters, notes, and a selected bibliography, as well as words about the author. Anne Bradstreet's poetry is touching and powerful; as the book states, she became "the first woman poet to be published in colonial America." (The quote can be found on page xii, part of the introduction) In a nutshell, Anne Bradstreet was born in England, in 1612. At the age of eighteen, she arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, part of the New World. Her new lifestyle was nothing like she had been accustomed to; this land was untamed wilderness. Despite her fears and woes, Anne Bradstreet's family and her strong faith in God conquered her misgivings. This is a biography of a strong Puritan woman who became a poet, shining in her belief that everything is created by God. I had never known much about Anne Bradstreet, other than the fact that she was a famous poet, so this book really opened my eyes to the woman, not just the poet.