Friday, December 16, 2011

Scholar discovers 16th-century love poem written by an Englishwoman

A previously unknown poem dating from the mid-1500s has been discovered pasted into a rare edition of works by Geoffrey Chaucer. The erotic-love poem seems to have been by a Roman Catholic woman and sent to a Protestant scholar who was the tutor to Edward VI.

The poem was discovered by medieval scholar Elaine Treharne during a guest lecture at West Virginia University last summer .

She took several students to the Rare Book Room on the University’s main library where Treharne happened to open a 1561 edition of works by Geoffrey Chaucer that includes The Canterbury Tales. As Treharne opened it, she saw a Latin poem pasted in the back of the book.

The name in the front pages of the book and at the base of the poem is Elizabeth Dacre. And Treharne’s translation of the poem revealed another name – the person for whom the poem was written: Anthony Cooke, tutor to King Edward VI, son of King Henry VIII.

So Treharne searched for Elizabeth, from the U.S. and in England, and came up with a surprising story.

Click here to read this article from Early Modern England