Document Type

Theories, Methods, and Cases


This essay takes Hutchinson, Cavendish, and Milton as case studies in gendered paradigms of authorship. Domestic contexts of literary production have been treated as far more central for understanding Hutchinson’s and Cavendish’s writing than Milton’s, though Milton was no less dependent on the aid and support of members of his household. This difference in emphasis is a symptom of the fact that the study of early modern women’s writing has long fostered a recognition of the essential sociability of literary creation. The emphasis on the contingency, social situatedness, and plurality of authorship found in work on early modern women’s writ- ing can productively be applied to a wider array of texts and authors. In readings of Paradise Lost and early biographies of Milton, this essay posits that attending to the social situations of Milton’s writing brings the poet’s ambivalence about collaboration into sharper focus.