Anne Bradstreet: Poet, Pilgrim, Rebel #womenshistorymonth


Disclosure: I was sent a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Today we are continuing our celebration of Women's History Month. Today I am featuring Anne Bradstreet. She was the first American poet to be published! As I was doing my research and looking for children's books about her, I discovered Poet, Pilgrim, Rebel: The Story of Anne Bradstreet, America's First Published Poet by Katie Munday Williams and illustrated by Tania Rex. Sadly, I could not find a copy at our local library, but I was able to get a digital copy to review, so I get to share it with you!

From the Publisher:

The inspiring story of a Puritan woman whose passion for writing poetry broke barriers.

Late at night, with her children tucked into bed and her husband away on business, Anne Dudley Bradstreet composed poems by candlelight. She let her thoughts from the day tumble out, memorizing each poem line by line before daring to shape the words onto scraps of scarce parchment. Puritan women in the 1600s weren't allowed to be writers. But when the world learned about Anne's poetry, even she was astonished by what happened next.

This charmingly illustrated picture book tells the inspiring story of how a Puritan woman overcame the obstacles facing women of her era to become one of the most famous poets in history. A gifted writer of deep faith, Anne Bradstreet blazed a trail for the rights of women to study, write, and achieve.

Download the free Poet, Pilgrim, Rebel Educator's Guide for kids to continue learning about Anne Bradstreet and her writing.

From Me:

This book is the perfect introduction to Anne Bradstreet for kids. It is recommended for ages 5 to 8. It tells the story of Anne's life from her childhood through her poems getting published. The story is easy to follow and teaches about this amazing woman. At the end of the book is the Author's Note where Katie Munday Williams shares that Anne Bradstreet is her great-grandmother x 14. She shares even more details about Anne and many of the things that are thought to be true about Anne. It is truly a wonderful book and should be added to the lower elementary classrooms when they discuss the pilgrims, colonists and early settlers. Anne lived in Massachusetts but came to the Salem area instead of Plymouth. Honestly, I am shocked that this book is not at our local libraries since she was a Massachusetts resident. The book shares how poetry was important to her all of her life and how she began to write her own. Anne Bradstreet was truly an early feminist.  Here is a little more about this amazing woman. This book is one of my sources for this information!

Anne Bradstreet

Anne Dudley was born on March 20, 1612, in Northamptonshire, England. She was the second child of Thomas and Dorothy Yorke Dudley. Her father was the steward to Theophilus Clinton, the Earl of Lincoln. Her family were Puritans. Her father loved books and poetry. His love was passed on to Anne. Together they would read and study poems. She would also listen to her father and his friends discuss other topics like astronomy, music, and medicine. She was encouraged to voice her opinions. Anne married her father's assistant, Simon Bradstreet, when she was 16 years old. She enjoyed sharing her opinions and discussing topics with Simon as well. She enjoyed the comforts of living on the Earl's estate. She was allowed to read from the Earl's library and thus was well educated through books. 

When the king decided to close and sometimes burn the Puritan churches, the first group of pilgrims left for America on the Mayflower. The Dudleys did not leave then.  In 1630, her father and Simon decided to take their families to Massachusetts to join the Winthrop Puritan group there. Anne was not happy with the journey or giving up the comforts of the Earl's estate to the harsh life of the new world. They embarked on the three-month voyage across the Atlantic to Salem, Massachusetts on the Arbella. The family was shocked to see the sickness and hunger that awaited them in Massachusetts. The family moved several times hoping to find a better life. They lived in Salem, Charlestown, Newtown (later called Cambridge), Ipswich, and in 1645, Andover. 

In 1632 while they were living in Newtown, Anne became sick. After recovering she wrote her first poem that we know of. The poem was "Upon a Fit of Sickness, Anno. 1632." Her poetry at first focused on religion as she feared being banned from the community for being too outspoken. In 1638, such fear was lived by Anne Hutchinson. At times Anne Bradstreet felt more connected to her family, children and community than to God. 

In 1633, Anne gave birth to her first child, Samuel. She went on to have a total of eight children. In 1634 her father was elected to be the governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony. 

The Tenth Muse by Anne Bradstreet
The Tenth Muse Title Page
Source: Anne Bradstreet (author of text); printed in London for Stephen Bowell,
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1650, her brother-in-law took her collection of poems to England. There is controversy over whether Anne knew he took it or not. He got it published under the title, The Tenth Muse, That Sprung Up in America. Or Severall Poems Compiled with Great Wit and Learning...By a Gentlewoman in those Parts. It was published in England and very popular there. King George III was reported to have a volume in his library.

Bradstreet first edition
Second Edition Title Page Source: John Foster (publisher),
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

It was not until 1678 that it was published in America. This was after her death in 1672. The American version was an expanded and updated version under the title, Several Poems...By a Gentlewoman in New England. She was the first American to publish a poetry book. Her poetry shared personal, political and thoughts about life in her time. Some describe her as a feminist sharing her views of men trivializing women. 

Anne Bradstreet died on September 16, 1672. Some sites say her grave is unknown, but I did find this photo of her gravestone in North Andover, Massachusetts. I do not know if she is buried there or not.

Anne Bradstreet Memorial N Andover Cem
Memorial Marker at Old North Parish Burial Ground, North Andover, Massachusetts Source: Sarnold17, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1673, Simon Bradstreet was elected Deputy Governor. In 1679 he was elected Governor until May 1686, when the charter dissolved. Therefore, Anne was the daughter of a governor as well as the wife of one. You can read some of her poems online at places like Poetry Foundation and

Other Sources: