Welcome to my monthly guest post at Almost An Author, whose mission is to equip, educate, and encourage writers, giving new writers a place to learn and grow. Each month I’ll be researching the contributions of women writers throughout history and what we can learn from their lives and writing habits in my new series, Lessons from the Ladies: Women Writers in Life and Letters, published on the second day of each month. Last month, we met Hrotsvitha, a German nun with a prolific pen in the 10th century. Her words and stories helped bring the light of literacy into the towns and villages of the dark ages throughout Western Europe. But what impact was to be made of the myriad of women writers, educated, yet having no avenue for broader publication of their words? This month, we’ll consider the eternal value of posterity.
The well-born lay woman . . . led a much freer and fuller life than her sister in religion. On her was laid the task of ordering large numbers of servants, of keeping good store of food and clothing, and of physicking if need be the members of her household.
Phillips & Tomkinson, English Women in Life and Letters
But, beyond the business of household management, lettered noblewomen enjoyed applying pen to paper for leisure in their writing life. Prayer journals, correspondence, fictional tales for personal amusement, and literary translations are left to us for posterity. For the most part, few of these women fancied their written words to have any lasting impact beyond their home. They had no thought to edit their work so we in later years have more honest words from which to, not only learn of historic realities, by more accurately judge the character of the writer in her time.
These documents are valuable historic treasures referenced by academic elites and non-fiction readers today. When penned, the writers could not have imagined eager audiences reading their words hundreds of years later. Secrets are shouted from rooftops reflecting upon the authors—for good or ill . . .
Let’s explore how, for many of us, mi’lady’s pen for posterity is a cautionary tale . . .
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Sharing Mi’lady’s Pen for Posterity this week with: