Upcoming Publication: Princesses Mary and Elizabeth Tudor and the Gift Book Exchange

This fall my second monograph, Princesses Mary and Elizabeth Tudor and the Gift Book Exchange, will be published with ARC Humanities Press in the “Gender and Power in the Premodern World” series. The monograph was meant to be published this summer, but due to the current pandemic, it is at the press awaiting copy-editing. The press plans to re-open in August. I actually presented portions of the first chapter at the Women’s Studies Group meeting on 30 January 2016.

This primary focus of this monograph are the four manuscript dedications that Princess Elizabeth wrote to Henry VIII, Katherine Parr, and her brother Edward, that accompanied her four pre-accession gift translations. It is clear that to fully understand these dedications, Elizabeth’s work cannot be separated out from that of her sister Mary. The dedications must be examined by themselves, as well as alongside the New Year’s gift-giving tradition in which she gave them both her and Mary’s youthful translations, and how her dedications and translations came to be represented after she completed them. Comparing dedications, then, is another way to compare their pre-accession experiences of Mary and Elizabeth, a time period for both women which is largely ignored for their later years as queen.

Importantly, rather than treating the pre-accession translations of Elizabeth and Mary as separate and not equal, this study examines them together, as Mary and Elizabeth undertook some of their translation at the exact same time. I show that Mary’s translations need to be considered as important as Elizabeth’s translations, and how in fact, Elizabeth’s translations were of little importance at the time she created them.

This study re-evaluates important literary achievements made by both princesses before they became queens. The first chapter is an analysis of the book dedications that were given to Princesses Elizabeth and Mary to show how Elizabeth’s dedications were part of a genre that used supplication and modesty to make a personal connection with the recipient of the dedication. The second chapter concentrates on Mary’s translations. Unlike those by Elizabeth, neither had an accompanying dedication and she did not give either as New Year’s gifts. The third chapter is the crux of my interpretation of Elizabeth, offering an examination of her four dedications alongside an explanation of the texts that they accompany. I suggest that Elizabeth had to give Henry, Edward, and Katherine Parr translated texts with dedications to prove her loyalty and show her desire not to be demoted from the royal family again. To greater emphasize the singularity and importance of Elizabeth’s dedications, the fourth chapter examines extant New Year’s gift-exchange information for the years in which Elizabeth gave her translated manuscripts to her relatives. The final chapter concentrates on the printed publications of Elizabeth’s translation of Marguerite of Navarre’s Le Miroir de l’áme pécheresse.

Valerie Schutte

Valerie Schutte is author of Mary I and the Art of Book Dedications: Royal Women, Power, and Persuasion (2015). She has edited or co-edited four collections on topics such as Mary I, Shakespeare, and queenship. Her personal website is https://tudorqueenship.com/.

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