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Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke entry: Overview screen.
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Mary Sidney wrote with a generation of Protestant women models behind her. Bibliographic Citation link. But her reputation, even her literary existence, has been eclipsed by the almost mythic fame of her brother Philip. He was older, publicly known, and universally admired even before his death. He published nothing; his writings reached the wider world by passing through the hands of his sister and of their friend Fulke Greville. Her writings encompass wholly independent texts, collaborations with Philip, and her revisions of work by him. The dates at which she wrote them are mostly debatable. But unlike any other Elizabethan noblewoman, Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, published her non-religious works as well as her religious. Her work in translation (not only the psalms); and in lyric poetry and heroic drama (perhaps in pastoral romance as well) helped shape the mainstream literary tradition.
Milestones
27 October 1561 Mary Sidney (later Countess of Pembroke) was born at Tickenhall, near Bewdley in Worcestershire. Bibliographic Citation link.
23 August 1588 Mary Sidney's publisher, William Ponsonby, entered The Countesse of Pembrokes Arcadia (by her brother Philip) in the Stationers' Register. Bibliographic Citation link.  scholarly note link.
1590 Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, Fulke Greville, and others published the first printing of the Arcadia by her late brother Philip, perhaps with her editing, up to midway in book three. Bibliographic Citation link.
26 November 1590 Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, seems to have finished translating and adapting, from the French of Robert Garnier, a Senecan tragedy, Antonius. Bibliographic Citation link.
3 May 1592 Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke's translated tragedy Antonius and her A Discourse of Life and Death were entered in the Stationers' Register by William Ponsonby. Bibliographic Citation link.
1593 Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, published a further-revised and expanded version of her brother's Arcadia. Bibliographic Citation link.
By 1594 Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke, had completed at least a draft of the metrical translation of the psalms begun by her brother Philip. Bibliographic Citation link.
1599 Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, presented a fine copy of the psalms written by herself and her brother to Queen Elizabeth, with a dedication to her. Bibliographic Citation link.
25 September 1621 Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, died of smallpox in Aldersgate Street, London. Bibliographic Citation link.
1823 Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke's metrical psalms, written in the sixteenth century, were first printed, in a limited edition, as by her brother Philip. Bibliographic Citation link.
1877 Ruskin showed his admiration of Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke's psalms (not thinking them hers, but all Philip Sidney's) by publishing a selection as Rock Honeycomb. Bibliographic Citation link.
1963 Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke's psalms, written in the sixteenth century, were edited, with her part in them (larger than her brother's) recognized for the first time. Bibliographic Citation link.
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