Anne, Lady Southwell


Klene (1997)

The Southwell-Sibthorpe Commonplace Book: Folger MS. V.b.198, ed. Jean Klene, C.S.C. (Tempe, Arizona, 1997)


Anne, Lady Southwell (née Harris) is now known for her manuscript ‘commonplace book’, now in the Folger (MS V.b.198), containing an assortment of verse, as well as other miscellaneous material. Although comprising entries in several hands, it was probably compiled principally by her and also partly by her second husband, Captain Henry Sibthorpe. The frequent presence in the manuscript of her distinctive rugged italic hand, drafting verses or else inserting revisions to copies by others, as well as the occasional subscription ‘A: S’, help to confirm the authorship of many of the poems in the manuscript. Although it includes some poems by other writers, therefore attributions cannot be certain, it seems likely from their style, characteristics and context that the majority of the verses are by her, as her modern editor assumes.

A few poems by Lady Southwell also appear in a manuscript miscellany in the British Library (Lansdowne MS 740). Otherwise, apart from two recorded original letters by her (*SoA 49-50) and two minor early prose pieces by ‘A S’, probably her, which got published in the 1614 impression of Sir John Overbury's Wife, Lady Southwell's writings would appear to have had little or no circulation, let alone printed publication, outside her immediate family.

Peter Beal