Dozens of seventeenth-century women, from many walks of life, wrote autobiographies. In many cases, writing was the only outlet they had for self-expression. This collection contains substantial extracts from the work of twelve such women, ranging from a shipwright's daughter to a duchess, and writing in a variety of forms - diary, memoir, romance, conversation, narrative, prophecy, defence, and lyric poetry. Their works address an enormous variety of topics, including male violence, female independence, women's travel, life in prison, love and marriage, relationships with mothers, children, husbands, friends, and God. A full historical and literary introduction situates the writers in relation to their general political and social background, while the work of each writer is introduced by a headnote giving specific contextual information.