'The Maid's Lawful Liberty: Service, the Household, and 'Mother B' in Isabella Whitney's A Sweet Nosegay'

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The article situates Isabella Whitney's 'A Modest Meane for Maids' and the larger volume of poems it which it appears (Whitney's A Sweet Nosegay) n the context of cultural attitudes toward women in service in early modern London. While the nefarious figure of Mother B (for Bawd) pervades discourses surrounding women in service, Whitney's poetry works to redeem the reputation of female servants, protesting their victimisation and establishing a unique authorial voice of the middle class woman at a very early moment in English literary history.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-462
Number of pages23
JournalModern Philology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 1998



  • Isabella Whitney
  • A Sweet Nosegay
  • early modern English poetry
  • early modern households
  • maidservants
  • women's writing

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