A Consortium of Writers, Artists, Scholars, Actors and Activists whose work challenges the status quo.

Reviews for Women’s Works


“This collection is a revelation, even to those of us who have long been interested in women’s writing. From now on, it will be an indispensable resource.”
Phyllis Rackin, Professor of English emerita and past president of the Shakespeare Association

“A remarkable contribution to scholarship that is also a pedagogical treasure, Women’s Works … should be in every university and college library and open on the desks of everyone teaching courses on or including seventeenth-century English literature.”
Margaret Ferguson, Distinguished Professor of English, University of California at Davis, and 2014-15 President of the Modern Language Association

“As the reader for countless journals and university presses in the field, I can place Foster in a rather wide range, a rather huge number, of Renaissance scholars.  And he is surely one of the best:  learned, bright, witty, winning – compelling in his argumentation and attractive in his style and presentation.   … Women’s Works is simply breathtaking. Not in its concept – we have long needed, and said we have needed, a thorough anthology of the best writing of Medieval and Renaissance English women … – but in its execution.  Foster has gone (as others have not) to every manuscript systematically. He has worked out stemma, textual variants, and the like. And he has prepared, for the first time, a work that is authoritative and comprehensive, complete and final. It will not, because it cannot, be superseded.”
Arthur F. Kinney, Thomas W. Copeland Professor of Literary History and Director of the Center for Renaissance Studies at the University of Massachusetts

Women’s Works […] capture[s] a genuine sense of the vast range of early modern English women’s literary contributions, providing students with the historical and cultural context necessary to understand women’s poems, plays, and prose writings. It will teach scholars a thing or two as well. No other anthology on the market offers a comparable sample of women’s printed and manuscript texts from the period.   Volume 4, 1625-1640 covers the Caroline era, one that has been vastly underrepresented in the study of British women’s literature. Individual poems and extracts have been contextualized so that their place in the larger work is clear, and the editorial method of interspersing the women’s texts with commentary makes material that was once considered the exclusive property of specialists into accessible, riveting reading. Bringing together the well-known poems of Anne Bradstreet with newly discovered ones by women like Hester Pulter, this volume will leave any reader with a renewed enthusiasm for Caroline literature and a fuller understanding of the role that women played in the literary culture of the time.”
Jennifer Higginbotham, Asst. Prof. of English, Ohio State University, author of The Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Sisters (2013)


Vol. 1 (Amazon review by “Jester Bells”):  A highly important work, well constructed. Even the concept of such a collection redefines the ‘his’ in ‘history,’ and the content showcases the significance and perhaps as importantly the existence of women throughout history and their contributions to literature and society. It’s past time the voices of these women were heard, analyzed, and appreciated as much as that of their male counterparts. Finally they can be, thanks to these excellent side-by-side translations, with historical context given, and notes about word meanings on the same page as the text for easy reference, and detailed descriptions of the sources and the remaining questions concerning them. The editorial commentary is insightful, specific, analytic, clear, and witty.



Volume 3. “This book is a gem. It provides witty, lively introductions to a large gathering of women’s writing across a range of subjects during the reign of King James I.  WOMEN’S WORKS, Vol. 3, 1603-25 is the most complete and compelling collection of its kind, combining meticulous scholarship and engaging presentation with fully teachable texts. The anthology we have needed for so long has finally arrived.”
Valerie Wayne, Professor Emerita of English, University of Hawai’i at Manoa

Vol. 1 (Amazon review by “A. Rawlinson”):   I read avidly but am no good at reviewing. What I get from a book is so subtle I often don’t know what it is….but this book pleases me very much. At last, the writings of these women has seen the light of day. They are witty, sweet, sad and extremely scholarly. I am grateful, too, for the background information given by the researchers. It’s like finding a whole new set of relatives who have been loving you all these years without you knowing. I won’t rest until I have all four books and then I might even feel complete myself, as though I could not be so while remaining in ignorance of this glorious heritage of genius that has always been mine.



Volume 1. (Amazon review by “Sam”):  I’m writing this from a student’s perspective, which I’m sure will be helpful to some, considering that this book is well-suited for classroom use. This book is fascinating and amazingly well-researched. Foster has done something here that should have been done a long time ago. These volumes are filled with forgotten stories that we NEED to remember. And not only that, but it is VERY well laid-out. The table of contents (in chronological order, not alphabetical) is actually quite simple to follow. The footnotes are always super helpful and informative, which they often are not in books like this.

This work provides an entirely new perspective on the history of literature which is vital to any English Major’s (or anyone else for that matter) edification. All the introductions are well-written and highly detailed. They are interesting and engaging. The good things I could say about this collection is endless.
One of my favorite works from the first volume is [Men] in the Findern Manuscript on p. 149. It’s just really refreshing to hear a poem like that from so long ago.  Another of my favorites is on p. 218: Lullay. It is so sweet and simple that I just can’t help but smile a little as I read it.
All in all, a great collection.

Volume 1 (Amazon Review by “Rob Leinheiser”):
“One lasting impression that students receive from their classroom curriculum – even at the university level, even in the twenty-first century – is that men produce culture, while women produce sons…”

A more-than-common occurrence in western education, Donald Foster, Michael O’Connell, Christine Reno, and Harriet Spiegel seek to undo our notions of male cultural authority by highlighting some of the greatest, most beautiful, and funniest writings of Women from the medieval period through the renaissance.

Foster and company bring a lot of new works to the table, highlighting Women authors who have never been studied before. An adventurous endeavor, they succeed in not only producing a comprehensive guide to Women’s work in the pre-renaissance era but creating a student and classroom-friendly work that will leave students and professors alike wanting to read more about the amazing, poetic, and witty women of England.