Whitney, Geoffrey and Isabella

   • Geoffrey, the brother, ?1548-?1601
   Born at, or near, Nantwich, Cheshire, he was educated at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, but appears not to have graduated. In 1580 he was under-bailiff of Great Yarmouth, but for how long is not certain. During this time he had contact with many scholars in the Netherlands, and when he left Yarmouth he moved to Leyden (Leiden) where, in 1586, he became a student in its newly founded university. In 1586 he published Choice of Emblems, a book of 248 poems generally one or more stanzas of six lines. Some are original, others are drawn from other poets. He died unmarried in Cheshire. His only other known works are: An Account in Latin of a Visit to Scratby Island, off Great Yarmouth, 1580, and some verses in Dousa's Odæ Britannicæ, Leyden, 1586. Some of his Latin-titled poems: "Desidiam Abiiciendam," "Homines Voluptatibus Transformantur," "Iudicium Paridis," "Mortui Diuitiæ," "Noli Altum Sapere," "Quod in Te Est, Prome," "Ridicula Ambitio."
   • Isabella, the sister, dates unknown
   Isabella appears to have had another brother with the initials B.W. Although little is known of her life, she was probably born in the late 1540s and appears to have been in service in London. She is believed to be the first professional female poet in England and the first woman to publish a collection of original poetry. Whitney was a pioneering author, for she produced marketable poetry designed to appeal to public taste at a time when devotional literature and translations of men's work was considered to be the only proper literary work for women. Much of her poetry was quite risky for the times, as she often wrote about gender issues and the liberation of women from the power of male dominance. Her publications: The Copy of a Letter, Lately Written in Meter by a Young Gentlewoman: To Her Unconstant Lover (1567). A Sweet Nosegay or Pleasant Posy: Containing a Hundred and Ten Philosophical Flowers (1573). Some of her poems: "A Carefull Complaynt By the Vnfortunate Auctor," "A Farewell to the Reader," "A Soueraigne Receipt," "The Auctor to the Reader," "The Maner of Her Wyll, & What She Left to London," "To Her Brother B.W."
   Sources: Biography and Works of Isabella Whitney (http://www.users.muohio.edu/clarkjd/harper98.html). Dictionary of National Biography. Electronic Edition 1.1. Oxford University Press, 1997. Early Modern Women Poets (1520-1700). Jane Stevenson and Peter Davidson, eds. Oxford University Press, 2001. Elizabethan Lyrics. Norman Ault, ed. William Sloane Associates, 1949. English Poetry: Author Search. Chadwyck-Healey Ltd., 1995 (http://www.lib.utexas.edu:8080/search/epoetry/author.html). Geoffrey Whitney's Mottos (http://www.mun.ca/alciato/whit/w001.html). Isabella Whitney, a Sweet Nosegay (http://ise.uvic.ca/Library/SLT/literature/whitney.html). Isabella Whitney, Mary Sidney and Amelia Lanyer: Renaissance Women Poets. Penguin Books Ltd. (Penguin Classics), 2001. Life and Works of Isabella Whitney (http://ise.uvic.ca/Library/ SLT/literature/whitney.html). The Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry. 11th ed. The Columbia Granger's World of Poetry, Columbia University Press, 2005 (http://www.columbiagrangers.org). The Penguin Book of Renaissance Verse 1509-1659. David Norbrook, ed. Penguin Books, 1992. To Her Cousin, F.W., Isabella Whitney. Erin M. Harper, ed. (http://www.users.muohio.edu/clarkjd/harper98.html).

British and Irish poets. A biographical dictionary. . 2015.

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