‘In a mirrour clere’: Anne Lock’s Miserere mei Deus as Admonitory Protestantism

  • Rosalind Smith
Part of the Early Modern Literature in History book series (EMLH)


In 1560, Anne Lock published under her initials a translation of four of Calvin’s sermons on Isaiah 38, prefaced by a dedicatory epistle to Catherine Brandon and followed by a sonnet sequence, A Meditation of a Penitent Sinner: Written in the Maner of a Paraphrase upon the 51. Psalme of David. The Meditation consists of two parts: five sonnets ‘expressing the passioned minde of the penitent sinner’, followed by a longer sequence paraphrasing the 51st Psalm. It is an unsettling text in a number of ways. Generically anomalous, it contains the first sonnet sequence not only to be written in English, but also to combine the Petrarchan genre of sonnet sequence with psalm paraphrase. Unlike the texts of the circle of aristocratic women surrounding Catherine Parr, which form the major precedents for women’s publication in England before 1560, the text was compiled from the community of Protestant exiles in Geneva by a woman from a merchant family. Its strangeness disturbs some of the critical models applied to mid-sixteenth-century women’s writing, models that characterize women’s textual activity in terms of a restricted class of aristocratic authors, in a secondary or derivative relationship to male-authored texts, and generally confined to religious genres and topoi.


Woman Writer Late Sixteenth Century French Edition English Tradition Derivative Relationship 
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© Rosalind Smith 2005

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  • Rosalind Smith

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