Margaret Cavendish, Vision and Fancy

  • Jane Partner
Part of the Early Modern Literature in History book series (EMLH)


This chapter reappraises the scope and importance of Margaret Cavendish’s engagement with vision, showing that her early interest in atomism and its complex relation to lens technology (as reflected in Poems, and Fancies), paved the way for her developing conception of sight as being governed by the ‘fancy’. Partner offers a new perspective on Cavendish’s early knowledge of Hobbes by revealing her previously unacknowledged familiarity with the unpublished manuscript of Hobbes’ ‘Optiques’, before using this context to illuminate Cavendish’s responses to the observational procedures of the Royal Society, as manifested in the primacy of fancy in the ‘poetic’ prose of the Blazing World.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jane Partner
    • 1
  1. 1.Trinity Hall and Faculty of EnglishUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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