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Women Letter-Writers in Tudor England$
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James Daybell

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199259915

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199259915.001.0001

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Social Relations Inscribed in Correspondence

Social Relations Inscribed in Correspondence

(p.175) 7 Social Relations Inscribed in Correspondence
Women Letter-Writers in Tudor England

James Daybell (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter studies letters for what they tell us about women's social relations. By analysing how women wrote to a range of individuals, it investigates the balance of power within a range of relationships. Central here is the degree to which the manner of women's writing was affected by the gender of recipients. How far in practice were women subservient in their writing to men other than their husbands and fathers? Did letters to male correspondents differ significantly from those to female correspondents? It argues that rank, family and social status, and local influence had as much impact, if not more, than gender on levels of power and authority observable in women's letters. Thus, while a woman might be deferential in letters to her husband, she could usually expect respect from sons and obedience from male servants and tenants, and could thus correspond with an aura of confidence and command.

Keywords:   social relations, female obedience, female subservience, women's power, women's authority, gender, writing, deference, affection

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