The Seventeenth Century: Special Issue on Lucy Hutchinson



Selected papers from the Lucy Hutchinson conference, reflecting the wide range of work in Hutchinson studies from theology to queer theory, have now been published as a special issue of The Seventeenth Century, published by Taylor and Francis:

Introduction: Lucy Hutchinson: theology, gender and translation

David Norbrook

Lucy Hutchinson and puritan education

Mark Burden

John Owen, Lucy Hutchinson and the experience of defeat

Crawford Gribben

“Every County had more or lesse the civill warre within it selfe”: the realities of war in Lucy

Hutchinson’s Midland shires

Martyn Bennett

No “Publick funerall”? Lucy Hutchinson’s elegy, epitaph, monument

Susan Wiseman

Animals and the political in Lucy Hutchinson and Margaret Cavendish

Mihoko Suzuki

Lucy Hutchinson’s Sodom and the backward glance of feminist queer temporality

Penelope Anderson

Lucy Hutchinson, gender and poetic form

Elizabeth Scott-Baumann


Lucretius edition gains MLA award

Vmla2olume 1 of The Works of Lucy Hutchinson has been awarded an Honorable Mention in the competition for the Modern Language Association Prize for a Scholarly Edition.

The citation states:

With their incisive introduction and impeccable textual work, Reid Barbour and David Norbrook have produced a deeply impressive edition of Lucy Hutchinson’s sometimes labored, sometimes shimmering, always invigorated translation of Lucretius, a work that, thanks to the editors’ great erudition, can serve as a vantage from which to survey many of the ambitions and uncertainties of British intellectual life in the 1650s. Readers will be grateful to the editors and to Oxford University Press for their decision to pair the edition of Hutchinson’s manuscript translation with an equally careful edition of her printed source. The introduction details Hutchinson’s long-standing engagements with Epicureanism, while the commentary enables us to understand the translation as a tense, cunning, thrilling, and cautious rehearsal of Lucretius’s impolitic account of how “nature her administrations brings”.

The first ever conferencPicture1e on Lucy Hutchinson was held at St Edmund Hall, Oxford on 28 November. David Norbrook gave an overview of research to date, pointing out that many basic questions remain to be answered, ranging from the whereabouts of lost manuscripts to the larger issue of the interrelations between her widely divergent Epicurean, Calvinist, historical and poetic interests. It had taken a long time to assemble her widely-scattered works and to begin to understand their interrelations, he suggested, both because she was a woman and because she did not seem to be a ‘woman writer’: there had been a consistent tendency to underestimate her accomplishments and originality because it was assumed that she would have worked at an inferior level to male contemporaries, but her writings did not fit easily into the normal paradigms for early modern female authorship. Three excellent panels opened up a range of critical approaches across Hutchinson’s canon. One group of papers explored theme and form in Hutchinson’s poetry. Carrie Gorman explored textual and conceptual connections that linked Hutchinson’s Lucretius translation with her theological works and with Order and Disorder. Elizabeth Scott-Baumann discussed metrical representations of order and disorder in seventeenth-century poets and asked how far Hutchinson’s metrics had a gendered aspect. Susan Wiseman analyzed formal fragmentation in the ‘Elegies’ and proposed some new poetic models for the night imagery in the ‘Elegies’. Mihoko Suzuki discussed the impact of Epicurean theory and of other generic models on Hutchinson’s representation of animals. Penelope Anderson deployed concepts such as ‘temporal drag’ in queer theory to analyze Hutchinson’s representations of the Sodom story. Martyn Bennett explored the unique contribution made by the Memoirs in adding individual motivations for otherwise obscure events in East Midlands Civil War history, while Blair Worden noted some of the challenges facing editors concerning the work’s personal biases and multiple versions. Several papers centred on Hutchinson’s theology, which will be the focus of the second volume of the Oxford edition. Sarah Hutton drew contrasts between Hutchinson and many contemporary writers who were more sympathetic to reason in religion, and highlighted her ambivalence about women’s role in intellectual life. Erica Longfellow pointed out that her writings also differed from many writers in the Calvinist tradition who urged an intensely personal union with God. Elizabeth Clarke explored her debt to the ‘mother’s legacy’ tradition of writings by women, and asked how far her theological writings were gendered. Crawford Gribben showed that John Owen’s Theologoumena pantodapa, from which Hutchinson translated, was written at a time of remarkable political ambivalence in his relations with the Restoration regime. Mark Burden discussed Hutchinson’s portrayal of her husband’s and her own education and asked how far her own religious writings fulfilled the ideals she set herself. The conversations begun at this conference will be continued.

The Lucy Hutchinson Conference

St Edmund Hall, Oxford, Thursday 28 November 2013

As the second volume of Lucy Hutchinson’s works nears completion, the first-ever conference on Lucy Hutchinson will offer a chance to take stock and look forward. The conference will present work for the second volume that throws new light on Hutchinson’s politico-theological positions, and will also engage with her representation of the Civil War in the Memoirs and with questions of gender and representation in her poetry. Speakers will include Penelope Anderson, Martyn Bennett, Mark Burden, Elizabeth Clarke, Cassie Gorman, Jonathan Gibson, Crawford Gribben, Elaine Hobby, Sarah Hutton, Erica Longfellow, David Norbrook, Elizabeth Scott-Baumann, Mihoko Suzuki, Susan Wiseman, and Blair Worden.

Registration by 21 November:


John Owen’s Translators

the-latin-works-of-john-owen-in-englishLogos Publications has recently announced that it is commissioning a new translation of John Owen’s Theologoumena Pantodapa and other Latin writings. These were included in Goold’s nineteenth-century complete edition but omitted from modern reprints. btimageThe gap was filled by an ‘interpretation’ edited by Stephen Westcott, published as Biblical Theology in 1994. We owe a lot to Westcott and his co-workers for grappling with an intractable work: Owen’s syntax is often chaotic, his shifts of tone are abrupt, and his theological vocabulary – from his near-untranslatable title onwards – is alien for today’s readers. Biblical Theology, therefore, freely expands on and elucidates the original; but the result can be distortion. The outstanding Owen scholars Sebastian Rehnman and Carl Trueman have highlighted the deficiencies that have led to the call for a new version. Trueman writes: ‘Let us hope Logos find a translator with a sound knowledge of Latin, a good grasp of medieval and Renaissance philosophical and theological vocabulary, and a solid understanding of seventeenth century Reformed Orthodoxy.  That is a tall order but absolutely necessary if the task is to be carried out with competence’.

In various discussions about the Theologoumena, it has largely escaped notice that such a translator had come forward in the seventeenth century. Lucy Hutchinson’s abridged version of the first two books was published in 1817, but it was not recognized until Katherine Narveson’s article of 1989 (‘The Sources for Lucy Hutchinson’s On Theology‘, Notes and Queries, N. S. XXXVI (1989), 40-41), that this was indeed a translation.  A newly annotated version will appear in volume II of the new edition of Hutchinson’s works.

Hutchinson’s version often abbreviates Owen, but with characteristic economy she highlights the key points. A woman who had had no access to a university education could never be a polymath  of the kind Trueman calls for, but she had enough Greek and Hebrew to tackle many difficulties, and in many ways her version was both clearer and more accurate than the Westcott interpretation.  One example will illustrate both the challenges she faced and her success in tackling them. Owen writes:

[Ad infinitam Dei αὺτάρχειαν pertinet, ut] ipse solus se cognoscat perfecte. . . Itaque scientia illa, [quâ Deus se atque omnia sua attributa perfectissime novit, cùm sit infinita et necessaria], non nisi ipse Deus infinite sciens & sapiens est. Haec ideo primae veritatis ipsam se perfectissime comprehendentis [atque amantis] cognitio, non nisi improprie a quibusdam theologia ἀρχέτυποσ dicitur. Quid autem per theologiam ἀρχέτυπον intelligi vellent, an ipsi intelligant vehementer dubito.

(John Owen, Theologoumena pantodapa  (Oxford, 1661), p. 11 (I.iii.2)

The passage is dense with Greek theological terms. Here is the Westcott interpretation:

It is necessary to the unlimited self-sufficiency of God that He himself alone may know Himself perfectly . . . God Himself alone is all-knowing and all-wise and, therefore, knowledge in its true fullness can rest only in God Himself. We will say, then, that this attribute of absolute Godhead, to know ‘first-truths’ in knowing, comprehending and loving itself, may not improperly be called ‘archetypal theology’. This is the only true and complete theology. (Now, our scholastics also make mention of ‘archetype theology’, but what they would wish to be understood by then term, I doubt if they themselves could explain!)

Hutchinson’s version is as follows:

God alone knowes himselfe perfectly. This knowledge in God is nothing elce but God himselfe, infinitely wise and understanding; therefore this knowledge of the first or origi­nall truth, most perfectly comprehending itselfe, is by some, very improperly, calld truth in the architipe. I doubt, they scarce understand their owne meaning therein.

She has trimmed much of Owen’s wording (indicated in square brackets above). But she sees that here as often, Owen is ridiculing technical theological terminology, rejecting the term ‘archetypal’ for that knowledge which God has of himself and which is thus necessarily beyond our understanding. Owen uses the emphatic double negative ‘non nisi’, ‘not unless’, as he had done in his previous sentence – and as he does 74 times through his treatise. The Westcott interpretation, missing this point, has Owen accepting the term ‘archetypal’ and then has to elaborate on the next sentence to make sense of an apparent contradiction.  Trueman and Rehman both accept that Owen is endorsing the archetypal concept and elaborate on this at some length: Rehnman paraphrases, ‘The fullness of this knowledge is therefore not improperly called archetypal theology, since it is the infinite divine knowledge’ (Divine Discourses: The Theological Methodology of John Owen, Grand Rapids, 2002, p. 60). As Rehnman shows, that is indeed what he might have been expected to say, in the mainstream of seventeenth-century Calvinism; but Owen was writing in a particularly radical frame of mind, after the collapse of his hopes for reforming the universities.

That Hutchinson rather than Owen’s modern commentators was right on this point was confirmed by the attenders of a conference on ‘Latinity in the Post-Classical World’, organized at Rome by the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Neo-Latin Studies. David Norbrook presented a paper on Hutchinson as translator of Owen and George Buchanan, in a session at which Elizabeth Clarke and Maria Cristina Zerbino were also present. The setting of the Vatican City may have been a piquant one for these fiercely anti-Papal writers, but they both had a commitment to Latin learning, and Volume II will have much more to say about Hutchinson and Owen.

Lucy Hutchinson’s Lost Notebook

In 1806 Julius Hutchinson illustrated his edition of Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson with an engraving of a page from a notebook that has now been lost. Fortunately, a search on Early English Books Online makes it possible to identify the source. Hutchinson is transcribing, with some omissions, from Robert Sanderson, ‘The Third Sermon Ad Clerum’, on 1 Corinthians 12: 7 (The Works of Robert Sanderson, ed. William Jacobson, 6 vols. (Oxford, 1854), II: 76-106 (80-2). Sanderson’s sermons went through a large number of editions down to and beyond Hutchinson’s death in 1681, and there are no textual variants that might make it possible to identify which of these she was using. Her choice of Sanderson is in some ways surprising, since he was an Anglican royalist who had been chosen as a chaplain by Charles I, and was praised by Izaak Walton as a model bishop. Collections of his sermons from 1657 onwards carried a preface which denounced the hypocrisy of those who had turned against the Church of England. Hutchinson would have known, however, that was an element of defensiveness in that polemic, since he had in fact made some compromises with the Interregnum political and religious orders, including modifications to the Book of Common Prayer and possible collaboration on some religious meetings, for which he was being criticized by some Anglicans. Since his parish of Boothby Pagnell was only twenty-five miles from Owthorpe, Hutchinson is likely to have known of these disputes. In theological terms, Sanderson shared much common ground with Puritan Calvinists, and it was only from 1657 that his published sermons dropped marginal notes attacking Arminians. In the later 1650s his standing as a defender of orthodox reformed theology, and his reputation in casuistical divinity, brought him in touch with the strongly Calvinist group then enjoying ascendancy at Oxford, notably Owen’s former tutor and now protégé Thomas Barlow. Another friend of Barlow’s, the Earl of Anglesey, to whom Hutchinson dedicated her Lucretius translation in 1675, quoted Sanderson for the soundness of his anti-Papal views. Until such time as the notebook is recovered, we cannot know whether she transcribed more of Sanderson’s writings and when and why she took these notes; some hypotheses will be given in the new edition. The notebook is probably out there somewhere, perhaps catalogued under ‘Sanderson’ or merely ‘sermons’ – please help us find it!

Lucy Hutchinson and her books: a new discovery

What did Lucy Hutchinson read? She certainly loved books. Her husband’s father, she tells us, had ‘a most choyce library, vallued at a thousand pounds’, and John Hutchinson believed that it would be ‘very inglorious for him not to understand how to make use of his father’s bookes’ and employed a scholar to help him prepare for his inheritance. His father’s remarriage robbed him of this opportunity, but he had the means to build up a library of his own. Unfortunately, the library was dispersed when the family moved from Owthorpe in Nottinghamshire, and Julius Hutchinson, the first editor of the Memoirs, was forced to sell off many books and papers for financial reasons.

A catalogue of books from ‘the REMAINING PART of the LIBRARY of the ancient family of the HUTCHINSONS, of Owthorpe Hall, in the County of Nottingham’, to be sold by William Adams of Loughborough, was noted in the Nottingham Journal, 25 March 1809, but it has not so far been traced – any information would be welcome.

Courtesy of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto

Rachel Adcock has  located a further catalogue from 1815 with more material from the Hutchinson library. Unfortunately, this amalgamates items so that is impossible to tell which one comes from Owthorpe.

Until recently only one possible exception has been known. A copy of the Shakespeare First Folio, now in the Folger Shakespeare Library, is said in the family to have belonged to Colonel Hutchinson. A detailed description is given in The Shakespeare First Folios: A Descriptive Catalogue, ed. Eric Rasmussen and Anthony James West. There is, however, no inscription from any family member earlier than the 1670s and it seems possible that the book originated with the poet Charles Cotton, who married the daughter of John Hutchinson’s half-brother Charles.

Now, however, a book that definitely belonged to Lucy Hutchinson has come to light. It is a 1639 edition of Battista Guarini’s Il pastor fido and Rime, recently purchased by the Friends of the Bodleian for the Bodleian Library. It contains an inscription:

By permission of the Bodleian Library, Oxford (Vet. L2f.3)

After two false starts, Hutchinson writes:

Libro de Lucia


dato lei per lo suo

marito Giovan ill

Signore Giovanny


This is the first evidence we have that Lucy Hutchinson spoke Italian, though she tells us in her autobiography that her father Sir Allen Apsley, Lieutenant of the Tower of London, provided her with tuition in languages, and her writings attest to her knowledge of Latin and Greek. The inscription is undated, but the stress on her being married, and the moment of uncertainty about whether to record her husband’s social status, may indicate that it dates from the early stage of her marriage. John Hutchinson’s courtship of Lucy Apsley had had a distinctly literary flavour: she first came to his attention when a poem of hers was read out in the household of the musician Charles Coleman, and when he visited her lodgings in her absence he was very interested to see Latin books on her shelves. In a poem composed after her husband’s death in prison, she describes a dream of a house where she had once lived:

Here ware ye Gardins ye well painted groues

Where Nimps & Sheapheards treated gentile loue

The arras Storries did our fances rayse

To what The Poeits faind of Golden days

When Innocence chast loue & Constant truth

Shind in ye conuerse of vntanted Youth

[We] Thought to aemulate ye Virtues of yt age

But Soone those Actors left an empty stage[.]

These lines could be a paraphrase of the celebrated chorus at the end of Guarini’s fourth act: ‘Oh bella età de l’oro .  . .’. Guarini had rewritten line by line the chorus from Tasso’s Aminta beginning with the same words; Tasso’s libertine ‘Scherzar si vide con l’amata il vago’ had become ‘ed era un nome sol marito e vago’: ‘Husband and Lover signifi’d one thing’, in Sir Richard Fanshawe’s translation.  Hutchinson’s inscription to her ‘marito’ testified to erotic passion appropriately channelled into matrimony: the world powerfully invoked in her description of her courtship and marriage in the Memoirs.

Fuller details will be given in a forthcoming article by David Norbrook in the ‘Bodleian Library Record’.