Izaak Walton, Lucy Hutchinson, and the Experience of Civil War

  • John M. Adrian
Part of the Early Modern Literature in History book series (EMLH)


George Herbert’s death in 1633 prevented him from seeing the further erosion of middle ground — not only in the Church, but in other aspects of political, religious, and social life. Within a decade, England was plunged into civil war. The English Civil War was fundamentally a national event. Unlike, say, the Wars of the Roses, it was waged in every county and involved people from all levels of society. Moreover, it was fought primarily in order to arbitrate national issues like the proper relationship between King and Parliament and the ideal form that the state Church should take. Although there were many answers to these questions, only one vision could prevail at any given time — which is precisely why the stakes were so high. The Civil War also forced people in the provinces to think nationally. In many cases, they had to pick a side or at least play a role in events that they didn’t necessarily seek out.


National Event Local Place English Nationhood National Affair Local Sphere 
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  1. 2.
    For more on Parliamentary retreat during the 1650s — particularly amongst the Presbyterian gentry — see J. T. Cliffe, Puritans in Conflict: The Puritan Gentry During and After the Civil Wars (New York: Routledge, 1988), 180–183.Google Scholar
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    In considering the narrative content of the Memoirs in its own right, my analysis will supplement the recent critical focus on Hutchinson’s status as a woman writer. See, for instance: David Norbrook, ‘“But a Copie”: Textual Authority and Gender in Editions of The Life of John Hutchinson,’ in New Ways of Looking at Old Texts, III, ed. W. Speed Hill (Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2004), 109–130; Susan Wiseman, Conspiracy and Virtue: Women, Writing, and Politics in Seventeenth-Century England (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 179–233; Paul Salzman, Reading Early Modern Women’s Writing (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 135–175; Sharon Cadman Seelig, Autobiography and Gender in Early Modern Literature: Reading Women’s Lives, 1600–1680 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 73–89.Google Scholar
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    Lucy Hutchinson’s preoccupation with the relevance of ‘little things’ can also be seen in her engagement with Lucretian philosophy — she translated the entire De rerum natura in the 1640s and 1650s — and its commitment to the materiality of even those things we cannot see. See Jonathan Goldberg, ‘Lucy Hutchinson Writing Matter,’ English Literary History 73 (2006): 275–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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© John M. Adrian 2011

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