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"Neither Maide, Wife or Widow": Ester Sowernam and the Book of Esther

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date2003
JournalProse Studies : History, Theory, Criticism
Number of pages23
Original languageEnglish


Ester Sowernam's pamphlet, Ester Hath Hang'd Haman (1617), although explicitly anti-misogynistic, has been treated with suspicion in feminist studies because its title-page riddle and pseudonym problematize female authorship. This article discusses the issues surrounding authorship that the pamphlet provokes, and more specifically the tension between biological and discursively constructed identity that concerns gender studies. It also provides the most extensive contextualization of the work to date: a reception history of its prime intertext, the Book of Esther. By providing the framework through which the pamphlet would most likely have been read, both the pamphlet and the hitherto unsolved riddle are illuminated.