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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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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 22 September 2021

Marital Correspondence

Marital Correspondence

(p.200) 8 Marital Correspondence
Women Letter-Writers in Tudor England

James Daybell (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter surveys correspondence between spouses, emphasizing the variety and complexity of marital experience, and examining the effects on letters as a source of rising female literacy and greater epistolary privacy between partners. It stresses that letters reveal the widespread existence of emotional as well as social, economic, and political bonds within marriage, and indicate mutual favourable expectations of conjugal relationships. Allied to this, it argues that correspondence was not merely a pragmatic way of conducting business and conveying information, but in fact performed more privy and intimate functions, and assumed emotional significance. This chapter also assesses the extent to which restrictive gender codes of female behaviour were enforced in practice, mapping the location of power within marital relationships and the scope of wives' activities and interests. Finally, it highlights the differences between husbands' and wives' letters: husbands more frequently articulated emotion and affection in their correspondence than did wives.

Keywords:   nature of marriage, marital relationships, husbands and wives, epistolary privacy, female literacy, emotions, affection, husbands' letters, wives' letters, gender codes

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