Author of the first book written by a woman to be published in the United States, and widely considered the first American poet, Anne Bradstreet's poetry has been set to music by countless American composers, including Leonard Bernstein, Ned Rorem, Miriam Gideon, and William Bolcom.
Photo: a commonly used image of Anne Bradstreet, public domain
Born in Northampton, England, Anne Bradstreet and her husband Simon Bradstreet immigrated to America in 1630 on the ship Arbella with a group of Puritan emigrants. Upon their arrival in Massachusetts, Simon took a government position in Boston.
Despite difficult living conditions in colonial America and Bradstreet's own health problems, she and her husband had a strong relationship and raised a family of eight children. Since her husband often traveled for work, Bradstreet turned to reading and poetry as a coping mechanism for her loneliness and as an artistic outlet. She kept her poetry secret to avoid social exile faced by outspoken educated women in her conservative community.
Her brother-in-law John Woodbridge discovered her writing and had her poetry published in England in 1650 to much success.
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