Cover image for The mothers legacy to her vnborn childe
The mothers legacy to her vnborn childe
Jocelin, Elizabeth, 1596-1622.
Publication Information:
Toronto : University of Toronto Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
x, 135 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
BV4570 .J63 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



The mother's advice book represents a distinctly female literary genre appearing in seventeenth-century England. According to the conventions of this form, a mother leaves written instructions, of a predominantly spiritual nature, as a legacy to her children. The Mothers Legacy, written by Elizabeth Joscelin, is particularly significant for its documentation of ideas about women's education, authorship, and spirituality. With her writing, the author inscribes a distinctly female Protestant perspective. Moreover, as a highly self-conscious text, sophisticated in its use of rhetoric and passionately eloquent, The Mothers Legacy is an important example of Renaissance devotional writing. This popular book was reprinted seven times in the eleven years following its first appearance in 1624 and its appeal endured through to the end of the nineteenth century.

The text is presented as a parallel edition of the original holograph and facing printed version. This comparative format allows for a discussion of the transmission and alteration of the original manuscript and provides a unique insight into the changes made by a male editor to a text written by a woman. The edition also includes an appendix of nineteenth-century introductions to the work, and an extensive bibliography.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Mother's advice books are a small but extremely interesting group of women's writings in which mothers leave a religious or instructional legacy to their offspring. Of the five that appeared in the early 17th century, the most popular has been Jocelin's, in part because of her introductory letter to her husband, in which she describes her love for him and her (prophetic) anticipation of her death in childbirth. Recent critics have found other reasons for interest: motherhood as occasion and justification for women's writing; the treatise addresses both a son and a daughter; Jocelin was one of the few learned women of the period; her manuscript was edited by a male (Thomas Goad). Although she could have provided a longer introduction and cast her intellectual net more widely (e.g., in connection with Goad's editing, the fact that texts were often subject to nonauthorial rewriting in this period), Metcalfe (Wilfrid Laurier Univ.) addresses these issues and others competently, offering a balanced and intelligent discussion. And the edition itself is superlative, providing parallel texts of Jocelin's holograph and the 1625 impression of Goad's printed version, notes on variants, and glosses. Elegant editing, done with a careful and caring eye to both text and contemporary reader. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. P. Cullen; emeritus, CUNY Graduate Center and College of Staten Island