David Norbrook

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This page reflects a scholar's association with the Folger Institute.

Long-term fellowship

"Lucy Hutchinson’s Memoirs: Life-Writing, History, and Revolution" (Mellon, 2014–2015)

I would work on a study of Lucy Hutchinson (1620-81) as autobiographer and historian, centred on her Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson. This work has long been accepted as a classic of seventeenth-century historical writing, yet its author has remained in the work’s shadows. I propose to relate the Memoirs to new information about her life and to an extensive but neglected canon of other writings, from a translation of Lucretius to religious verse and prose, demonstrating the sometimes surprising combination of strongly secular analysis with Protestant millennialism. I shall consider the Memoirs not just as a work of transcription and familial reminiscence but as the product of a woman intellectual who shaped her experiences in the light of her own combination of literary ambition, religious commitment, political ideology, and family loyalty. I shall explore the ways she negotiated the particular pressures that came from being a woman writing on controversial subjects, a republican with close royalist relatives, and a Puritan deeply interested in an atheistical poet. Study of the Folger’s exceptionally rich primary and secondary sources in seventeenth-century literature and history and of its manuscripts by contemporary women will help to define more closely what was distinctive about her own profile as a writer.

Scholarly Programs

Speaker, Political Thought in Times of Crisis, 1640-1660 (Symposium, 2016-2017)

Participant, Comus: A Workshop (Weekend Workshop, 2000–2001)

Director, Women Intellectuals and Political Ideology in Seventeenth-Century England (Seminar, 2000–2001)