Anne Bradstreet



The Works of Anne Bradstreet in Prose and Verse, ed. John Harvard Ellis (Gloucester, Mass., 1867; reprinted 1932)


The Works of Anne Bradstreet, ed. Jeannine Hensley (Cambridge, Mass., & London, 1967; reprinted 1981)

McElrath & Robb

The Complete Works of Anne Bradstreet, ed Joseph R. McElrath, Jr and Allan P. Robb (Boston, 1981)


Printed Verse

Anne Bradstreet, who, as a teenager, emigrated from England to America with her Puritan family in 1630, has been traditionally regarded as New England's first original poet, male or female. A collection of her poems was first published, allegedly without her consent, as The Tenth Muse Lately sprung up in America, Or Severall Poems, compiled with great variety of Wit and learning...By a Gentlewoman in those parts (London, 1650). In an address to the reader apparently by her brother-in-law John Woodbridge the edition is justified by reference to the imperfect manuscripts of the poems then allegedly in circulation. Bradstreet herself revised and augmented the collection for an authorised second edition, published posthumously in Boston, 1678. For a discussion of these volumes in the context of the early colonial book trade, see Pattie Cowell, ‘The Early Distribution of Anne Bradstreet's Poems’, in Critical Essays on Anne Bradstreet, ed. Pattie Cowell and Ann Stanford (Boston, 1983), pp. 270-9.

No examples of the supposedly circulated early manuscripts of her poems are known, and, as Bradstreet herself declared, her own ‘papers fell a prey to th'raging fire’ which destroyed their home in Andover, including the family library of 800 books, in 1666.

The Andover Manuscript

One major manuscript produced by Bradstreet does, however, survive: the so called ‘Andover MS’, now on deposit at Harvard (MS 1007.1). This notebook, containing often intimate lyrical and meditative poems, chiefly about her family life, was prepared for, and subsequently used by, members of her family. Including her son Simon's transcripts of poems from yet another (now lost) ‘Book left by my hond & dear mother to her children & found among some papers after her Death’, as well as one poem copied by him ‘ovt of a loose Paper’, this notebook expands the corpus of her works significantly. A neat transcript of it (Harvard, MS AM 1007) was made evidently by her daughter Sarah. Substantial extracts from the notebook were first printed by William Ives Budington in a series of contributions to the Massachusetts Sabbath School Society's magazine The Congregational Visiter (Boston, 1844) and in his The History of the First Church, Charlestown (Boston, 1845). The full text of Anne Bradstreet's writings in the notebook was first published in Ellis's edition (1867), and obviously this manuscript is the copy-text for all subsequent editions of those particular writings.

Peter Beal