"a briefe and plaine declaration": Lady Anne Bacon’s 1564 Translation of the Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae

Allen, Gemma (2010). "a briefe and plaine declaration": Lady Anne Bacon’s 1564 Translation of the Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae. In: Lawrence-Mathers, Anne. and Hardman, Phillipa eds. Women and Writing, c.1340-c.1650: The Domestication of Print Culture. Manuscript Culture in the British Isles. Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, pp. 62–76.

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Madame, according to your request I haue perused your studious labour of translation profitably imploied in a right commendable work ... And now to thende bothe to acknowledge my good approbation, and to spread the benefit more largely, where your Ladishippe hathe sent me your boke writen, I haue with most hearty thankes returned it to you (as you see) printed.

Thus wrote Matthew Parker, archbiship of Canterbury, in a letter to "the right honorable learned and vertuous Ladie A.B." The "Ladie A.B." in question is Lady Ann Bacon (1528-1610) and the letter was appended to her translation of John Jewel's Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae, published in 1564. The translation deserves closer attention than it has so far received. At first sight, Parker's dedicatory epistle portrays the translation as a semi-private manuscript work by a woman, which only accidentally found its way into print. Closer analysis reveals that whilst this translation was produced by a woman within a domestic setting, Anne Bacon had always envisaged a wider readership and was addressing concerns far beyond her own household in the work. This was a translation designed to remedy the dearth of preaching in the 1650s, providing a creed for the nascent Church of England. Anne deliberately wanted her message to appeal to as wide a readership as possible and so she turned to contemporary theories of translation to produce an authentically "English" voice in her text. Female religious translations have often been considered as evidence of the silencing of women's voices in print culture. This essay will instead argue that detailed analysis of Anne Bacon's translation of the Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae reveals her ability to speak clearly on behalf of her own religious priorities.

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