Standard Name: Ephelia
Pseudonym: Ephelia
Pseudonym: A Gentlewoman
Pseudonym: A Lady of Quality
Birth Name: Mary Villiers
Styled: Lady Mary Villiers
Nickname: Butterfly
Nickname: Papillon
Married Name: Mary Herbert
Titled: Mary, Lady Herbert
Married Name: Mary Stuart
Titled: Mary Stuart, Duchess of Lennox and Richmond
Indexed Name: Mary Stuart, Duchess of Richmond
The Restoration user of the name Ephelia was a remarkably assured, forceful, and accomplished poet (as well as a playwright), although she left, outside her single printed collection (1679), only four poems extant: political broadsheets and a manuscript elegy. She writes outspokenly about the pains of love, and about her ambition to outdo the achievements of women thus far in writing poetry. Her poems mourn deaths, advise and celebrate the monarch, and prosecute the war between the sexes. The possibility that these poems might have been written by a man or men has been seriously argued, but seems remote when her voice is compared on the one hand with those of male contemporaries and on the other with, for instance, Katherine Philips , Aphra Behn , Philo-Philippa , and Damaris Masham . In more than a dozen years since Maureen E. Mulvihill identified Ephelia with Mary Villiers Stuart, Duchess of Richmond, the attribution has been accepted by all standard reference sources and has had no serious printed counter-identification. Ephelia is therefore quite probably one of those few elite women who, remarkably, thought subversively in gender politics although patriarchally in national politics.


Connections Sort descending Author name Excerpt
Friends, Associates Aphra Behn
AB was intimate with the writers' and artists' circles of her day. She befriended Thomas Otway , and allowed him to act in her first play, when he was an insecure youth of nineteen. She...
Friends, Associates Anne Finch
AF 's two friendship poems involving a woman she calls Ephelia (a dialogue between them professing the warmest commitment and an Answer to Ephelia, a satire on fashionable society addressed to a trusted confidante)...
Textual Features Germaine Greer
The selection of poets is highly informed. It reaches back in time before GG 's anthology Kissing the Rod, to Anne Askew and Isabella Whitney , and forward to Carol Ann Duffy and Margaret Atwood
Textual Production Eugenia
The pseudonym Eugenia, meaning well-born, was fairly common. The Eugenia to whom William Walsh addressed A Dialogue Concerning Women, Being a Defence of the Sex, 1691, was probably not his sister Olivia (who...


23 August 1628: Charles I's favourite George Villiers, 1st...

National or international item

23 August 1628

Charles I 's favourite George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham (whose daughter Lady Mary, later Duchess of Richmond, is widely identified as the poet Ephelia ), was assassinated at Portsmouth.

1656: Abraham Cowley published Poems; this volume,...

Writing climate item


Abraham Cowley published Poems; this volume, which included his Pindaric Odes and Miscellanies, confirmed his stature as the leading poet of the day.


Ephelia,. A Funerall Elegie on Sr Thomas Isham Barronet.
Ephelia,. A Poem As It Was Presented To His Sacred Majesty On the Plott. 1679.
Ephelia,. A Poem to His Sacred Majesty, on the Plot. Henry Brome, 1678.
Ephelia,. Advice to His Grace. 1681.
Ephelia,. Ephelia. Editor Mulvihill, Maureen E., Ashgate, 2003.
Ephelia,. Female Poems on Several Occasions. James Courtney, 1679.
Ephelia,. Poems by Ephelia (c. 1679). Editor Mulvihill, Maureen E., Scholars’ Facsimiles and Reprints, 1992.