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Leeds Brotherton MS Lt q 32

The Manuscript

The extant body of Pulter’s writing, including her ‘Emblemes’, the 'Poems Wrighten By the Right Honerable H. P.', and a prose romance entitled ‘The Unfortunate Florinda’, are all preserved in a single manuscript (MS Lt q 32) housed in the University of Leeds’ Brotherton Library. The library bought the manuscript at auction in 1975 but it was miscataloged and subsequently forgotten. In 1996 Mark Robson, now a lecturer at Nottingham University, uncovered it while working part time to fund his graduate studies. It is one of the most substantial surviving collections of literature produced by an early modern woman and in recent years it has begun to attract significant attention from scholars working in the field.
The manuscript volume, measuring 283mm by 185mm, has pages slightly smaller than a sheet of A4. It is bound in reversed calf skin, resembling soft brown velvet, and on the spine ‘LADY HESTHER PULTER'S POEMS’ has been embossed in gold. The volume opens with the ‘Poems Wrighten By the Right Honerable H. P.’ and these are followed by her collection of ‘Emblemes’. ‘The Unfortunate Florinda’ has been transcribed at the back of the volume where it runs in reverse towards the centre of the manuscript. The volume itself is in excellent condition suggesting it has been little read in the three hundred and fifty years since it was compiled.
Pulter’s poetry and prose has been transcribed into the manuscript in a neat, consistent and decorative hand that is most probably not Pulter’s own (top right hand image; click on thumbnail to see enlarged image). It is possible that one of Pulter’s adult daughters, who are frequently referenced in the poems, was responsible for compiling the volume. Pulter herself apparently checked through the transcription making the occasional correction and addition. She also added several poems to the volume, including ‘The Weepeing Wishe’, an image of which can be seen on the main page of this website (also bottom right; click on thumbnail to see enlarged image). At some point during the eighteenth century, the volume fell into the hands of Angel Chauncy, a local clergyman with family connections to the Pulters. He added several later poems not composed by Pulter and wrote occasional notes in the margins of Pulter’s text.
The texts transcribed into Pulter’s manuscript were apparently composed between 1644, when the Civil Wars had been raging in England for two years, and 1660 when Charles II was restored to the English throne. The main series of poems, 'Poems Wrighten By the Right Honerable H. P.', were most probably transcribed into the volume in 1655, a date confirmed by the paper which can be dated to that year. It seems that the ‘Emblemes’ and ‘The Unfortunate Florinda’ were composed during the 1650s and added to the manuscript no later than 1661. The poems that Pulter added to the volume in her own hand are all dated circa 1665, suggesting the original scribe was no longer available to make the additions herself.
For more information about Pulter’s literary manuscript see her entry in the Perdita Project online database of early modern women’s manuscripts.


Note on the Text

On this site, the text has been reproduced with original spelling and original punctuation. Where additions and corrections have been made in either the main scribal hand or in Pulter's own hand they have been silently included. Any changes or additions made by later annotators have been ignored. Text inserted in [square brackets] indicates that it is not part of the original manuscript and was instead inserted by me. The poems have been reproduced in the order they appear in the original manuscript.

Page showing the main scribal hand


Page showing Pulter's hand