Mary Sidney wrote with a generation of Protestant women models behind her.
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
. 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.