Isabella Whitney entry: Overview screen.
Writing and Life
Works By
Isabella Whitney is remarkable as the first woman—middle-class too, not noble—to publish a book of poems in English, which she did in 1567. She went on to issue another collection and several separate poems.
The date of IW's birth is not known: it must have been some time around the mid sixteenth century. She seems to have been the eldest among her sisters, if not of the whole family. Her "Wyll" says she was "bred" Bibliographic Citation link. in Smithfield. She probably means that London shaped her. She may well have been born at Coole Pilate near Nantwich in Cheshire, a hamlet where her family had a small estate. Bibliographic Citation link.
Probably 1567 The printer Richard Jones issued what may possibly be a second printing of IW's Copy of a letter to her unconstant Lover, the first book of poems identified as by an Englishwoman, as by 'Is. W.' Bibliographic Citation link.
20 October 1573 IW wrote her longest poem, "The Manner of her Will, and what she left to London: and to all those in it: at her departing", printed in her A Sweet Nosgay, Or Pleasant Posye. Bibliographic Citation link.
Nothing is known of when or where IW died, though the balance of probability seems to be that she was living in September 1600.
Back to Top