During Elizabeth I's reign, love poetry acquired a popularity and brilliance unparalleled in English literary history. Ilona Bell shows how the tropes and rhetoric of love poetry were used to court Elizabethan women (at court, in the great houses, and in society at large) and how the women responded to being wooed, in prose, poetry and speech. Juxtaposing canonical male poets and recently discovered women writers, she investigates texts addressed to, written by, read, or heard by Elizabethan women, and charts the beginnings of a female lyric tradition.
"Indispensible for upper-division undergraduate libraries as well as for research collections." Choice
"Bell's...argument that amatory poetry is dialogue rather than monologue, that it is at least the representation of and often the product of actual relationship, provides an excellent basis for a renewed exploration of its subject." Journal of English and Germanic Philology
"This book performs an important service by returning late twentieth century scholars to a more fundamental way of reading courtly poetry." Albion
"With a book so thoroughly researched, so brilliantly written-especially with her clever and probing analyses of individual poems-the reader is tempted to say that Bell has every reason to suppose that what she calls Renaissance 'pseudo-Petrarchan' poems...I think that the real importance of her book for Spenserians-its clarity of purpose, its richness of story, its exuberant style-is that it uses the early modern resistant female reader and writer to return us to the poems themselves." The Spenser Review
"It offers a useful way to locate women's voices in places they sometimes appear to be." Renaissance Quarterly
"I applaud Bell's attempt to hear women's voices amid the conversation of men." Modern Philology