The Cooke Sisters: Education, Piety and Politics in Early Modern England
Gemma’s book explores the lives of five remarkable Tudor women: the Cooke Sisters. Little known to us today, this book uncovers how these women used their unusual education in Latin and Greek to engage in political activities on the same terms as their male contemporaries. Whilst the sisters’ husbands and sons were renowned Elizabethan politicians, the book reveals for the first time their own involvement in the fiercest power struggles in Tudor England.
The Letters of Lady Anne Bacon
Gemma’s edition of the surviving letters of one of the Cooke sisters, Lady Anne Bacon, is out now. Mother to the famous philosopher, Francis Bacon, Anne’s letters reveal her outspoken anger and disappointment at her son’s affairs and show us that Tudor mothers were often far from retiring figures.
Women as Counsellors in Sixteenth-Century England: The Letters of Lady Anne Bacon and Lady Elizabeth Russell
Gemma’s chapter in this volume explores how two sisters, Lady Anne Bacon and Lady Elizabeth Russell, used their letters to provide advice and guidance to their male contemporaries, both within their families and in their wider social networks. Renaissance learning provided the sisters’ male contemporaries with the rhetorical tools needed to become effective counsellors, yet there has been no prior consideration of whether this was a practical reality for women as highly educated as Anne Bacon and Elizabeth Russell. As women, they were aware of the vulnerability of their counsel within a patriarchal society, however they turned to their unusually advanced education to provide strategies to bolster their advice-giving. Their education allowed them to conceal, emphasise, and legitimate their letters of counsel, particularly through recourse to their classical reading, highlighting their shared educational background to their male correspondents.
“a briefe and plaine declaration”: Lady Anne Bacon’s 1564 Translation of the Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae
Gemma’s article in this collection of essays explores Anne Cooke Bacon’s widely disseminated 1564 translation of John Jewel’s Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae. Female translation has previously been viewed as a ‘defective’ activity, revealing little of the woman’s direct agency. Earlier work on Anne’s translation of the Apologia has thus seen it as an example of the silencing of women’s voices within a patriarchal society. Detailed analysis of the text instead reveals Anne’s involvement with religious issues of national importance to the reformed faith, in line with the priorities of her privy councillor husband and her brother-in-law, William Cecil. The act of translation offered Anne Bacon the chance not only to bolster her political networks, but also to strengthen the faith of her contemporaries.