Cavendish (1623-1673)

Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne

 

"If I am condemned, I shall be annihilated to nothing: but my ambition is such, as I would either be a world, or nothing.”

- Poems (1653), dedication to “To Natural Philosophers”

Cavendish is famous today for her plays, letters, orations, poetry and fiction, and was a very popular writer in her time. She was prolific, publishing more than a dozen original works during her life, under her own name, with her portrait proudly engraved on the frontispieces of her works. This was done at a time when most women did not publish works, let alone under their name. Cavendish was also a natural philosopher in her own right, determined to learn about the latest scientific developments and to engage in philosophical debate despite her lack of any formal education. Thanks to her high social status, and her husband’s active and supportive interest in philosophy, she was able to personally know the best minds of her time, including René Descartes, Thomas Hobbes, Henry More, Walter Charleton, and Joseph Glanvill. She was also the first woman to be formally invited to visit the Royal Society and to observe the famous air pump experiments of Robert Boyle. At a time when many women writers were concerned predominantly with issues of religion, or the education of women, Cavendish trail-blazed her way by developing a unique position in natural philosophy which critiqued the dominant materialist, mechanist and dualist theories of substance and causation. Extravagant and eccentric, “mad Madge” stands alone as one of the few early modern women – the list also includes Du Châtelet – who was bold enough to stake out her philosophical position in a non-anonymous way, even at the risk of public ridicule.

1.1 Biography

In 1623, Margaret Cavendish (neé Lucas) was born into a wealthy aristocratic family, the youngest of the eight children of Sir Thomas Lucas and Elizabeth Leighton Lucas. Her father died when she was very young; her mother raised her. She received no formal education in science or philosophy, nor in any of the academic languages, such as Greek or Latin. Her education was typical for young ladies of her time, consisting of learning to read and write, to dance, and to sing. Unlike some aristocratic women, such as Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, she did not have private tutoring in natural philosophy, and unlike Masham or Conway, she also did not have a philosophical mentor. She was, however, precocious from an early age and having access to private scholarly libraries, she made up for her lack of education by reading. Despite her stay in France, however, she seems never to have learned French. She also benefitted from learned discussions with her brother John, who was a scholar of philosophy and natural science, and who was fluent in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. John later became one of the founding fathers of the Royal Society. Cavendish’s lack of formal education is important, as she very often publicly decried this handicap in her works. Interestingly, given her future notoriety as eccentric, extravagant and “mad,” she is described as being very shy in her youth.

As the Civil War erupted in England in 1642, Cavendish’s home at St. John’s Abbey was attacked by rebels and her family’s tomb was desecrated. Given that her father’s early death left her without a dowry, the ambitious Cavendish successfully applied in 1643 to become the maid of Queen Henrietta Maria, the Catholic wife of the soon to be executed King Charles I, and the mother of the future kings Charles II and James II.

St. John's Abbey gate, Colchester, Essex

In 1644, following more political disturbances in England, Cavendish followed the Queen from Oxford to exile in Paris. There she met her future husband William Cavendish (1593–1676), who later became the Duke of Newcastle. Cavendish’s marriage match proved to be intellectually, as well as socially, important for her. Her well-established and influential husband, thirty years her senior, was an amateur scholar very much interested in philosophy. Thomas Hobbes tutored both him and his brother Charles. William was not only able to introduce her to the most famous philosophers of the day, but also to help her publish her future works. Although Cavendish became very popular as a writer in her own right, and was prolific, it was highly unusual at the time for a woman to publish on topics in natural philosophy, and even more unusual for her to publish under her own name. Many of Cavendish’s works include a dedicatory epistle to her husband or a preface by him, which in some eyes lent the works an air of respectability. Although she did not have a dedicated philosophical mentor as Conway and Masham did, Cavendish did have the benefit of an influential husband who looked favorably upon her intellectual endeavours.

Margaret and William Cavendish, by Gonzales Coques, 1662

It is during their three-year sojourn in Paris from 1645 to 1648 that William introduced Cavendish to an intellectual circle of both French scholars and English scholars in exile, which soon became known as the “Newcastle” or the “Cavendish” circle. The circle included English philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes, Kenelm Digby and Walter Charleton, and French philosophers such as René Descartes, Pierre Gassendi and Marin Mersenne. The circle was also very well connected outside of Paris: William’s brother Charles Cavendish, for example, was personally acquainted with Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, who in turn corresponded with Descartes, and also commented on Digby’s views. Other notable women of the time, such as Queen Christina of Sweden, whom Descartes would later tutor, and Anna Maria van Schurman, were in communication with Gassendi and Mersenne. The new mechanical philosophy discussed by these philosophers left a deep impression upon Cavendish, inspiring her to pursue natural philosophy. In 1657, she corresponded with Constantijn Huygens on the topic of Prince Rupert's Drops, glass objects that were characterized by a curious combination of strength and fragility. By the time she returned with her husband to Restoration England in 1660, she had already penned five works, including Poems and Fancies (1653), Philosophical Fancies (1653), and Philosophical and Physical Opinions (1655), in which she begins to lay the groundwork for her alternative to the new mechanical philosophy.

Cavendish family circle by Peeter Clouwet, 1656

After her return to England, Cavendish busied herself with reading the latest works in natural philosophy. She read Charleton, Descartes, Digby, Hobbes, and J.B. Van Helmont, considering topics as wide as dioptrics, hydrostatics and magnetic theory. She also pursued readings in ancient philosophy. By 1668, she had already published – publicly and with her name and portrait proudly displayed on the frontispieces – thirteen works ranging from treatises, fiction, plays and a biography of her husband (which proved very popular and was subsequently reprinted many times). In her works she experimented with varieties of styles and genres to express her views on natural philosophy. Instead of engaging other philosophers in academic debate, Cavendish sent her works as presents to well known scholars at universities such as Oxford and Cambridge. Dressing lavishly and acting with an affected manner, she acquired a reputation for being an eccentric and extravagant, and altogether too bold for someone of her sex. She was a society phenomenon, and her visits to London always occasioned much excitement.

Grounds of Natural Philosophy, London 1668

During the 1660s, Cavendish was also interested in the world of experimental philosophers such as Robert Boyle, the curator of experiments at the Royal Society, Robert Hooke, and Henry Power. On May 30th, 1667, she gained even more notoriety for being the first woman to attend a meeting of the Society. Cavendish not only attended, but she was also formally invited, partly due to the intervention of her friend Walter Charleton, who lobbied on her behalf. At the Society, she observed Robert Boyle’s experiments with the air pump, and his experiments with mixing colours, with the assistance of Robert Hooke. She was delighted. The visit caused such a sensation that Samuel Pepys thought it worthy of an entry in his Diary, having spent some time pushing through the crowds to get a glimpse of her sumptuous carriage.

Boyle's air pump, New Experiments Physico-Mechanical, 1660 Oxford

By the time of her death in 1673, Cavendish had developed an overarching position that was unique in the philosophical landscape of her time. Her philosophical views are presented in her works Poems and Fancies (1653), Philosophical Fancies (1653), Philosophical and Physical Opinions (1655), Philosophical Letters (1664), Observations Upon Experimental Philosophy (1666), and Grounds of Natural Philosophy (1668), among others. In her works, she discusses Cartesian dualism, the materialism of Hobbes, and mechanist views of nature and of causation. According to many scholars, Cavendish staked out a new position that was distinguished from both the dualism and the materialism of her contemporaries.

Observations Upon Experimental Philosophy & The Blazing World, 1668 London, 2nd ed.

 

For image sources and permissions see our image gallery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.2 Portraits

Cavendish’s publications stand out not only because of their number (thirteen in total), but also because they visually represent a campaign of public self-promotion rare among women authors of the time. Cavendish not only self-published lavish presentation volumes, but she had many of the frontispieces engraved with her portraits – leaving no one in doubt as to the author. Unlike Conway and Masham, who cultivated socially acceptable anonymity, she unabashedly sought publicity.


Historical context

To put Cavendish’s publications in context, in the sixteenth and seventeenth century, the number of women whose works were published in print increased to the hundreds. However, most of these works were not published in quarto or folio format – what we would today think of as “book” and “large book” formats. According to Jane Stevenson, “well over half of seventeenth-century women’s ventures into print – approximately 60% – belong to the level of printing which was only one step up from the broadsheet ballad: pamphlets which amounted to one or one-and-a-half sheets cut and folded.” (Stevenson, 2009, pg. 207)

This would not do for Cavendish. As a wealthy aristocrat, she did not need to publish for financial gain; rather, self-published in order to gain widespread recognition from philosophers and academics. To give her works respectability, she published them in a format expected for scholarly works, the kind that would be included in university libraries, and commissioned the best possible publishers, printers, and illustrators. She published her first six works with the upscale London publishers John Martin and James Allestrye, who worked with some of the best printers, such as T. Roycroft. It is not clear why, but in 1662 Cavendish decided to work directly with a different printer, William Wilson, and after 1666, with the Anne Maxwell. Her works were published in the large folio format, which was usually reserved for classical authors, Bibles, or theological works.


Abraham Van Diepenbeeck

Moreover, Cavendish commissioned multiple portrait frontispieces for her works from Abraham Van Diepenbeeck (1596-1675) a Dutch stained-glass painter, painter and illustrator. Today he has been largely forgotten and is remembered in association with the Dutch painter Peter Paul Rubens. Van Diepenbeeck was familiar with Rubens’s work and produced a number of engravings based on his paintings. When he was rediscovered in the 19th century, many of the copies of Rubens’s paintings were attributed to him. Van Diepenbeeck was, however, a painter in his own right, although it is difficult to track down all his paintings and drawings (research forthcoming). It is not clear why Cavendish settled on Van Diepenbeeck; perhaps there is a personal connection: during their exile in Antwerp, Cavendish and her husband Sir William staid in a house formerly owned by Rubens. Sir William also commissioned Van Diepenbeeck to draw family portraits, one of which is included in Cavendish’s works as a frontispiece, and to draw several illustrations for his publication on horse dressage, La Méthode Nouvelle et Invention Extraordinaire de Dresser les Chevaux (1658).

Image of Van Diepenbeeck forthcoming.

 

Van Diepenbeeck individual portraits

(1) Image of the Minerva & Apollo portrait, courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery in London.

Multiple portraits by Van Diepenbeeck appear in many of Cavendish’s works. One is a picture of Cavendish in “which she appears as a classical heroine, standing in a masculine heroic pose with hand on hip, elbow pointed towards the viewer, draped in loose robes, wearing sandals, and standing in a statue’s niche between herms of Minerva and Apollo, who turn their heads in her direction. Marchioness Sappho, so to say.” (Stevenson, 2009, pg. 212). The portrait was engraved by Pieter Louis van Schuppen, after Abraham Diepenbeeck, and appears in six of the works digitized in the Early English Books Online proprietary database (EEBO).

Margaret Cavendish by Pieter Louis van Schuppen, c. 1655-1658

The inscription below the portrait states:

Here on this Figure Cast a Glance,
But so as if it were by Chance,
Your eyes not fixt, they must not stay,
Since this like Shadowes to the Day
It only represent's; for Still,
Her Beuty's found beyond the Skill
Of the best Paynter, to Imbrace,
Those lovely Lines within her face,
View her Soul's Picture, Judgment, witt,
Then read those Lines which Shee hath writt,
By Phancy's Pencill drawn alone
Which Peece but Shee, Can justly owns.
 
 

(2) Image of the Scholar portrait, courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery in London.

Another portrait is “as Scholar Marchioness: she sits by her writing table, wearing a plain dark dress, a feminine equivalent of scholar’s black, though she also wears a marchioness’s coronet, while a fine carriage clock takes the place of the hourglass used in scholars’ portraits to indicate that time is being well used. A cloth of state hangs above her, and in front of her, separating her from the viewer, is a low balustrade, such as was used to divide the monarch or aristocrat on his dais from the rest of the room.” (Stevenson, 2009, pg. 212) It is not clear who was the engraver of this image. Note: Unfortunately this portrait does not appear in any of digitized copies of Cavendish’s works available in EEBO. Perhaps it appears in different copies (research forthcoming).
 


Other individual portraits

The National Portrait Gallery’s website indicates that there are at least three other extant portraits, engraved after Van Diepenbeeck:


(3) Seated portrait, engraver unknown. This portrait appears in two of the works on EEBO. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery in London (two copies).


(4) Draped robe standing portrait, various engravers. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery in London (three copies).


(5) Court dress with pillar standing portrait, by William Greatbach, after Abraham Diepenbeeck. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery in London (two copies.)



Van Diepenbeeck – family portraits

There are also four group family portraits engraved after drawings by Van Diepenbeeck, some of which also serve as frontispieces. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery in London.


(6) The Duke and his family, by Peter van Lisebetten (Lysebetten, Liesebetten), after Abraham Diepenbeeck.


(7) William & Margaret Cavendish seated, by Peter van Lisebetten (Lysebetten, Liesebetten), after Abraham Diepenbeeck.


(8) The Duke and his family in Antwerp, by Peeter Clouwet, after Abraham Diepenbeeck. This portrait appears once in Cavendish’s works in EEBO.

The inscription below the picture states:

Thus in this Semy-Circle wher they Sitt,
Telling of Tales of pleasure & of witt,
Heer you may read without a Sinn or Crime,
And how more Innocently pass your tyme

Cavendish family circle by Peeter Clouwet, 1656
 


(9) William & Margaret Cavendish, small seated picture, by James Mitan, after Peeter Clouwet.



Painted portraits

The portrait on our website is by Gonzales Coques, and is called "Portrait of a Married Couple in a Park," or "Lord Cavendish und Seine Frau Margaret im Rubensgarten in Antwerpen" (Kat.Nr. 858). The image is reproduced here with the permission of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie. Foto: Jörg P. Anders.

To date, we have been able to identify two additional possible painted portraits. One is attributed to Sir Peter Lely, but many scholars suggest that this is a painting of Cavendish’s oldest sister. Another one is attributed to Van Diepenbeeck, and was reproduced in Grant’s (1957) biography by the permission of the Duke of Portland, K.G.

(More research on Cavendish’s painted portraits is forthcoming.)

Margaret and William Cavendish, by Gonzales Coques, 1662

 

List of portraits & frontispieces in Early English Books Online

Note: the following information is from digitized copies of originals available in the Early English Books Online proprietary database. First editions are in bold. There may be other copies of Cavendish’s work with different portraits or frontispieces (research forthcoming).


Spreadsheet version of table: Excel file

Source

Year

Portrait

Frontispiece

Source library

Philosophical Fancies

1653

 

--

London. Printed by Tho. Roycroft for J. Martin and J. Allestrye at the Bell in Saint Pauls Church-yard.

British Library

Poems and Fancies

1653

 

Minerva & Apollo (1)

 

 

London. Printed by T. R. for J. Martin and J. Allestrye at the Bell in Saint Pauls Church Yard.

Huntington Library

Philosophical and Physical Opinions

 

1655

Grant (1957) cites Scholar portrait (2) but this is not in EEBO.

 

London. Printed for J. Martin and J. Allestrye at the Bell in Saint Pauls Church-Yard.

British Library

The World's Olio

1655

Minerva & Apollo (1)

 

 

London. Printed for J. Martin and J. Allestrye at the Bell in Saint Pauls Church-Yard.

Huntington Library

Nature's Pictures

1656

 

Duke and his family in Antwerp (8)

 

London. Printed for J. Martin and J. Allestrye at the Bell in Saint Pauls Church-Yard.

Huntington Library

Orations of Divers Sorts

 

1662

--

London. Printed Anno Dom. (1663 in Latin)

Cambridge University

Plays

1662

 

Minerva & Apollo (1)

 

London. Printed by A. Warren for John Martyn, James Allestry, and Tho. Dicas, at the Bell in Saint Pauls Church Yard.                      

Huntington Library

Orations of Divers Sorts

 

1663

--

London. Printed Anno Dom. 1663.

University of Durham, England

Philosophical and Physical Opinions

 

1663

--

London: Printed by William Wilson. 

Huntington Library

Sociable Letters

1664

 

--

London: Printed by William Wilson. 

Harvard University Library

Philosophical Letters

1664

 

--

London. Printed in the year 1664.

Cambridge University Library

Poems and Fancies

 

1664

--

London: Printed by William Wilson. Anno Dom. (1664 in Latin)

Huntington Library

Observations upon Experimental Philosophy & The Blazing World

1666

--

London: Printed by A. Maxwell, in the Year 1666.

University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign Campus)

The Blazing World

1666

--

London: Printed by A. Maxwell, in the Year 1666.

Harvard University Library

The Life of William

1667

--

London: Printed by A. Maxwell, in the Year 1667.

University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign Campus)

The Blazing World

 

1668

Seated portrait (3)

London: Printed by A. Maxwell, in the Year (1668 in Latin.)

British Library

Grounds of Natural Philosophy

(revised 3rd edition of Philosophical and Physical Opinions)

1668

Image not available in EEBO.

Image not available in EEBO.

Huntington Library

Observations upon Experimental Philosophy & The Blazing World

1668

--

London: Printed by A. Maxwell, in the Year 1668.

Cambridge University Library  

The Blazing World

1668

Seated portrait (3)

London: Printed by A. Maxwell, in the Year (1668 in Latin.)

British Library

Orations of Divers Sorts

 

1668

--

London: Printed by A. Maxwell, in the Year 1668.

Edinburgh University Library

Plays, Never Before Printed

 

1668

 

Minerva & Apollo (1)

 

London: Printed by A. Maxwell, in the Year (1668 in Latin.)

Huntington Library

Poems and Fancies, or Several Fancies In Verse

 

1668

Minerva & Apollo (1)

Court dress (5)

 

London: Printed by A. Maxwell, in the Year 1668.

Huntington Library

Nature’s Pictures

 

1671

Minerva & Apollo (1)

 

London: Printed by A. Maxwell, in the Year 1671.

British Library

The World's Olio

 

1671

--

London: Printed by A. Maxwell, in the Year 1671.

Huntington Library

The Life of William

 

1675

Portrait of William.

London: Printed by A. Maxwell, in the Year 1675.

Huntington Library


National Portrait Gallery, London

The National Portrait Gallery main link for Van Diepenbeeck's portraits of Cavendish.


References

Grant, Douglas. 1957. Margaret the First; a biography of Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, 1623-1673: London, Hart-Davis, 1957. (See illustrations page in front matter.)

Steadman, David W. 1982. Abraham Van Diepenbeeck: Seventeenth Century Flemish Painter. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research Press.

Stevenson, Jane. 2009. "Women and the Cultural Politics of Printing." The Seventeenth Century 24 (2): 205-237.



For image sources and permissions see our image gallery

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.3 Chronology

Source

For more details, see the very helpful account of the major dates and events in Cavendish's life in O'Neill, Eileen, editor, 2001. Margaret Cavendish: Observations upon Experimental Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. xxxvii-xli.

Year Event
c. 1623

Margaret Lucas, youngest of eight children of Thomas Lucas and Elizabeth Leighton Lucas, born in Colchester, England.

1625

Death of Cavendish’s father, Thomas.

1630

Hobbes begins teaching natural philosophy to William Cavendish, Earl of Newcastle, and to William’s brother, Charles.

1635-36

Hobbes joins Marin Mersenne’s scholarly circle in Paris, which maintained contact with Descartes.

1641

Descartes’s Meditations on First Philosophy published in Latin.

1642

Looters enter Cavendish's home in St. John’s Abbey as the English Civil War begins.

1643

Cavendish becomes a maid of honor to Queen Henrietta Maria, who had fled from anti-Royalist forces in London to Merton College in Oxford.

Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia enters into a now famous correspondence with Descartes, challenging his dualism of mind and body.

1644 Descartes’s Principles of Philosophy, Mersenne’s Synopsis of Universal Geometry and Mixed Mathematics and Physico-Mathematical Thoughts, and Kenelm Digby’s Two Treatises, are all published. Descartes's Principles would be seen as his magnum opus in natural philosophy, and was translated into French three years later.

Cavendish follows Queen Henrietta Maria into exile in Paris.

1645

Cavendish's future husband William travels in the Netherlands and visits the exiled Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia in The Hague; he later arrives in Paris, where he meets and corresponds with Cavendish. William and Margaret marry at year’s end in Sir Richard Browne’s chapel, thereby changing Margaret's life forever.

1647

Death of Cavendish’s sister, Mary Killigrew; her mother, Elizabeth Leighton Lucas; and her illegitimate brother, Sir Thomas.

1648 Mersenne dies. Cavendish and her husband William travel to Holland following King Charles I, renting rent the house formerly owned by the famous painter, Peter Paul Rubens, in Antwerp.

Parliamentary troops execute William Cavendish’s brother, Sir Charles.

1649

King Charles I is executed in London.

1650

During his time in Stockholm tutoring Queen Christina, who would later become an important figure for thinkers like Émilie Du Châtelet, Descartes dies. Hobbes published his The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic.

Walter Charleton publishes some medical treatises of J. B. Van Helmont, in his A Ternary of Paradoxes.

1651

Hobbes publishes what would become his most famous and influential work, Leviathan.

1652

Walter Charleton publishes his The Darknes of Atheism Dispelled by the Light of Nature.

1653

Henry More’s An Antidote Against Atheisme and the first English edition of William Harvey’s On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals are both published.

Cavendish publishes her very first volume, Poems, and Fancies, followed quickly by Philosophicall Fancies a few months later. She returns from her trip to England back to Antwerp.

1654 Charleton’s Physiologia-Epicuro-Gassendo-Charltoniana is published, an influential work that would be read by many natural philosophers, including a young Isaac Newton.

Death of Charles Cavendish.

1655 Cavendish’s shorter literary pieces, including Shakespeare criticism and her discussion of Harvey on the circulation of the blood, are published as The World’s Olio.

Also published are Cavendish’s Philosophical and Physical Opinions, and Hobbes’ Latin treatise, Elements of Philosophy, The First Section Concerning Body, which was published in an English translation in 1656.

Death of Pierre Gassendi.

1656

Cavendish publishes Nature’s Pictures, which includes her biographical essay ‘‘A True Relation of My Birth, Breeding and Life."

1657

Cavendish corresponds with Constantijn Huygens, father of the mathematician and philosopher Christiaan, who would become renown throughout Europe later in the century.

1658

William Cavendish publishes a French work, The New Method and Extraordinary Invention to Dress Horses and Work Them According to Nature.

1659

Henry More publishes The Immortality of the Soul; More would eventually become connected with the philosopher Anne Conway.

1660 Charles II is restored to the throne.

Cavendish and her husband William return from exile, residing at Welbeck Abbey, an estate in Nottingham. She becomes an honorary member of the literary salon of Katherine Philips. Robert Boyle publishes his famous New Experiments Physico-Mechanicall, touching the Spring of the Air and Its Effects; we have reproduced a diagram from this work in the Images section of the site.

1662

Cavendish’s Playes and Orations of Divers Sorts, as well as Johannes Baptista Van Helmont’s Oriatrike, Or, Physick Refined are published.

1663

A revised version of Cavendish’s Philosophical and Physical Opinions and Henry Power’s Experimental Philosophy are both published.

1664

Henry More discusses Cavendish in his letter of March 1664/65 to Conway.

1665

Robert Hooke, a former assistant to Boyle and later the Curator of Experiments at the Royal Society, publishes his Micrographia, which is often considered a neglected work of this period.

William Cavendish is made Duke of Newcastle.

1666 Cavendish publishes her Observations upon Experimental Philosophy, to which is added, the Description of a New Blazing World.

Margaret Cavendish’s eldest brother, John, is expelled from the Royal Society of London

1667 Cavendish’s The Life of the Thrice Noble . . . William Cavendishe is published, with a Latin translation published by Walter Charleton in 1668.

Cavendish corresponds with Glanvill on metaphysical issues and also visits the Royal Society of London.

1668

Cavendish’s Grounds of Natural Philosophy and Plays, never before Printed are both published

1673

Cavendish dies on December 15 – she is buried in Westminster Abbey on January 7 of the next year.

1676 William Cavendish edits and publishes Letters and Poems in Honour of the Incomparable Princess, Margaret, Dutchess of Newcastle.

Death of William – he is buried next to Margaret in Westminster Abbey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Primary sources guide

Cavendish delighted in publicizing her work: unlike her fellow English philosophers Conway and Masham, she insisted on having her name, and usually a portrait, printed in her works. Given that she was a prolific writer, we have tried to breakdown the information on primary sources in a helpful way. Section 2.1 provides a chronological reference list of Cavendish’s published works, a breakdown of the references according to specific work and its editions, and a list of modern editions. Section 2.2 provides a brief description of each of her works.

There is no standard critical edition of Cavendish’s complete works, and few of her writings are available in their entirety in modern editions. However, digital scans of the originals of all her works are available electronically through the Early English Books Online (proprietary) database. It also makes available modern text transcriptions of all the first editions of the texts.

An annotated list of Cavendish’s texts, printers, and booksellers (1653-1675) has been compiled by Cameron Kroetsch and is available for download as a PDF on the Digital Cavendish Project website.


Spreadsheet overview: Excel file

EndNote library: forthcoming

 

 

 

 

 

2.1 Primary sources

Chronological list

Cavendish, Margaret. 1653. Philosophicall Fancies. London: Printed by Tho. Roycroft for J. Martin and J. Allestrye.

. ______. 1653. Poems and Fancies. London: Printed by T. Roycroft for J. Martin and J. Allestrye at the Bell in Saint Pauls Church Yard.

______. 1655. Philosophical and Physical Opinions. London: Printed for J. Martin and J. Allestrye at the Bell in St. Pauls Church-Yard.

______. 1655. The World's Olio. London: Printed for J. Martin and J. Allestrye.

______. 1656. Nature's Pictures Drawn by Fancie's Pencil to Life. London: Printed for J. Martin and J. Allestrye at the Bell in Saint Paul's Church-yard.

______. 1662. Orations of Divers Sorts, Accommodated to Divers Places. London: Printed by William Wilson.

______. 1662. Playes. London: Printed by A. Warren for John Martyn, James Allestry, and Tho. Dicas, at the Bell in Saint Pauls Church Yard.

______. 1663. Orations of Divers Sorts, Accommodated to Divers Places. London: Printed by William Wilson.

______. 1663. Philosophical and Physical Opinions. London: Printed by William Wilson.

______. 1664. CCXI Sociable Letters. London: Printed by William Wilson.

______. 1664. Philosophical Letters. London: Publisher unknown.

______. 1664. Poems and Fancies. London: Printed by William Wilson.

______. 1666. The Description of a New World, Called the Blazing World. London: Printed by A. Maxwell.

______. 1666. Observations upon Experimental Philosophy. To Which is Added, the Description of a New Blazing World. London: Printed by A. Maxwell.

______. 1667. The Life of the Thrice Noble, High and Puissant Prince William Cavendishe, Duke, Marquess, and Earl of Newcastle. London: Printed by A. Maxwell.

______. 1668. The Description of a New World, Called the Blazing World. London: Printed by A. Maxwell.

______. 1668. Grounds of Natural Philosophy. London: Printed by A. Maxwell.

______. 1668. Observations upon Experimental Philosophy. To Which is Added, the Description of a New Blazing World. 2nd ed. London: Printed by A. Maxwell.

______. 1668. Orations of Divers Sorts, Accommodated to Divers Places. London: Printed by A. Maxwell.

______. 1668. Playes, Never Before Printed. London: Printed by A. Maxwell.

______. 1668. Poems, or Several Fancies in Verse: with the Animal Parliament, in Prose... The Third Edition. London: Printed by A. Maxwell.

______. 1671. Nature's Pictures Drawn by Fancie's Pencil to Life. London: Printed by A. Maxwell.

______. 1671. The World's Olio. London: Printed by A. Maxwell.

______. 1675. The Life of the Thrice Noble, High and Puissant Prince William Cavendishe, Duke, Marquess, and Earl of Newcastle. London: Printed by A. Maxwell.



Contemporary Latin edition of the Life of William

Charleton, William, ed. 1668. De Vita et Rebus Gestis...Guilielmi Ducis Novo-Castrensis. London: Printed by T. Milbourne.


Contemporary review of Cavendish's work

Du Verger, S. 1657. Humble Reflections upon some passages of the Right Honorable the Lady Marchionesse of Newcastles Olio, or, An Appeale from her Mes-informed, to her Owne Better Informed Judgement. Printed at London: Publisher unknown.

 

Early English Books Online database, Gale Group, has a modern text transcript and images of the 1657 original in the Huntington Library.

 

O'Neill cites this work as the only published contemporary critical response. Reference: O'Neill, Eileen. 2001. Margaret Cavendish: Observations upon Experimental Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


List of editions, by work in alphabetical order


Blazing World

Cavendish, Margaret. 1666. The Description of a New World, Called the Blazing World. London: Printed by A. Maxwell.

______. 1668. The Description of a New World, Called the Blazing World. London: Printed by A. Maxwell.



The Life of William

Cavendish, Margaret. 1667. The Life of the Thrice Noble, High and Puissant Prince William Cavendishe, Duke, Marquess, and Earl of Newcastle. London: Printed by A. Maxwell.

Charleton, William, ed. 1668. De Vita et Rebus Gestis...Guilielmi Ducis Novo-Castrensis. London: Printed by T. Milbourne.

Cavendish, Margaret. 1675. The Life of the Thrice Noble, High and Puissant Prince William Cavendishe, Duke, Marquess, and Earl of Newcastle. London: Printed by A. Maxwell.

 


Philosophical Fancies

Cavendish, Margaret. 1653. Philosophicall Fancies. London: Printed by Tho. Roycroft for J. Martin and J. Allestrye.



Philosophical and Physical Opinions (later renamed Grounds of Natural Philosophy)

Cavendish, Margaret. 1655. Philosophical and Physical Opinions. London: Printed for J. Martin and J. Allestrye at the Bell in St. Pauls Church-Yard.

______. 1663. Philosophical and Physical Opinions. London: Printed by William Wilson.

______. 1668. Grounds of Natural Philosophy. London: Printed by A. Maxwell.



Plays & Plays Never Before Printed

Cavendish, Margaret. 1662. Playes. London: Printed by A. Warren for John Martyn, James Allestry, and Tho. Dicas, at the Bell in Saint Pauls Church Yard.

______. 1668. Playes, Never Before Printed London: Printed by A. Maxwell.



Poems and Fancies

Cavendish, Margaret. 1653. Poems and Fancies. London: Printed by T. Roycroft for J. Martin and J. Allestrye at the Bell in Saint Pauls Church Yard.

______. 1664. Poems and Fancies. London: Printed by William Wilson.

______. 1668. Poems, or Several Fancies in Verse: with the Animal Parliament, in Prose...The Third Edition. London: Printed by A. Maxwell.



Nature’s Pictures

Cavendish, Margaret. 1656. Nature's Pictures Drawn by Fancie's Pencil to Life. London: Printed for J. Martin and J. Allestrye at the Bell in Saint Paul's Church-yard.

______. 1671. Nature's Pictures Drawn by Fancie's Pencil to Life. London: Printed by A. Maxwell.



Observations Upon Experimental Philosophy

Cavendish, Margaret. 1666. Observations upon Experimental Philosophy. To Which is Added, the Description of a New Blazing World. London: Printed by A. Maxwell.

______. 1668. Observations upon Experimental Philosophy. To Which is Added, the Description of a New Blazing World. 2nd ed. London: Printed by A. Maxwell.



Orations of Divers Sorts

Cavendish, Margaret. 1662. Orations of Divers Sorts, Accommodated to Divers Places. London: Printed by William Wilson.

______. 1663. Orations of Divers Sorts, Accommodated to Divers Places. London: Printed by William Wilson.

______. 1668. Orations of Divers Sorts, Accommodated to Divers Places. London: Printed by A. Maxwell.



Philosophical Letters

Cavendish, Margaret. 1664. Philosophical Letters. London: Publisher unknown.

 


Sociable Letters

Cavendish, Margaret. 1664. CCXI Sociable Letters. London: Printed by William Wilson.

 


The World’s Olio

Cavendish, Margaret. 1655. The World's Olio. London: Printed for J. Martin and J. Allestrye.

______. 1671. The World's Olio. London: Printed by A. Maxwell.

 


Modern editions of Cavendish's work

Please note that this list is not exhaustive. Excerpts of Cavendish’s works have been published in many modern works, especially literary anthologies. Cavendish remains a popular literary author. The following list focuses on complete modern editions of her work, along with works that include her natural philosophy.

Atherton, Margaret, ed. 1994. Women Philosophers of the Early Modern Period. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company.

Note: Contains selections from Philosophical Letters.

 

Cavendish, Margaret. 1969. CCXI Sociable Letters (Facsimile Reprint). Menston: Scolar Press.

______. 1972. Poems and Fancies (Facsimile Reprint). Menston: Scolar Press.

De Longueville, Thomas, ed. 1910. The first Duke and Duchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. London; New York: Longmans, Green.

Firth, C. H., ed. 1886. The Life of William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle, to Which is Added the True Relation of my Birth, Breeding and Life. London: New York: Scribner & Wellford.

______, ed. 1903. The Cavalier in Exile; Being the Lives of the First Duke & Dutchess of Newcastle . London: G. Routledge & sons limited.

______, ed. 1906. The Life of William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle, to Which is Added the True Relation of my Birth, Breeding and Life . London: G. Routledge.

______, ed. 1915. The Life of the First Duke of Newcastle: and other writings. London: G. Routledge.

Fitzmaurice, James, ed. 1997. Margaret Cavendish: Sociable Letters . New York: Garland.

James, Susan, ed. 2003. Margaret Cavendish: Political Writings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lilley, Kate, ed. 1923. The Description of a New World, Called the Blazing World and Other Writings. New York: New York University Press.

______, ed. 1992. The Description of a New World, Called the Blazing World and Other Writings. New York: New York University Press.

______, ed. 1994. The Blazing World and Other Writings. London: Penguin.

Lower, Mark Antony, ed. 1872. The Lives of William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle, and of his Wife, Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle. London: J. R. Smith.

Michael, Colette V. , ed. 1996. Grounds of Natural Philosophy (Facsimile Reprint). West Cornwall, CT: Locust Hill Press.

O'Neill, Eileen, ed. 2001. Observations Upon Experimental Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rhys, Ernest, ed. 1915. The Life of the Duke of Newcastle. London; New York: J.M. Dent; E.P. Dutton.

______, ed. 1916. The Life of the (1st) Duke of Newcastle, & Other Writings. London; Toronto; New York: J.M. Dent & Sons, Ltd.; E.P. Dutton & Co.

Shaver, Anne, ed. 1999. The Convent of Pleasure and Other Plays. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.2 Primary sources descriptions

Cavendish was a prolific writer, composing thirteen works of varied genre, including poems, plays, fiction, orations, letters and philosophical essays. It can be a challenge to keep track of the different works, editions, and their content. Below is an overview of the content of her works. Since scholars differ in their interpretations of the works – for example, there is not a consensus on exactly which ones contain her “natural philosophy” – the descriptions are brief. The overview table in this section lists the first editions, and subsequent editions only where a work underwent major revision.

Helpful resources regarding Cavendish’s specific works include:
 


Stewart Duncan’s overview of the Philosophical Letters (1664)

Table of contents and sources link

Cross-listed at The Digital Cavendish Project

A handful of the letters are reproduced online here

 


Emory Women Writers Resource Project digital edition of the atomic poems included in the first fifty or so pages of Poems and Fancies (1653):

Digital edition can be found here

Critical introduction to digital edition can be found here

 


'The Language of Genres' data analysis of Cavendish's texts by Jacob Tootalian, PhD candidate in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, can be found on the Digital Cavendish Project website.

 


Articles which summarize the content of Cavendish’s works on natural philosophy:

Boyle, Deborah. 2004. "Margaret Cavendish's Nonfeminist Natural Philosophy." Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology 12 (2): 195-227.

James, Susan, ed. 2003. Margaret Cavendish: Political Writings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (A critical edition of The Blazing World and Orations.)

 


Descriptions of Cavendish's works

Source

Year

Brief description

Poems and Fancies

1653

 

A collection of poems, epistles and some prose on a variety of topics. It is notable because the first fifty pages contain poems on atoms, and offer atomistic explanations of various natural phenomena such as cold, life, death, frost, etc. Various other topics include animals, the sun, roaring of the sea, witches of Lapland, battle between life and death, love, passions, etc.

Emory Women Writers Resource Project digital edition of the atomic poems.

Philosophical Fancies

1653

 

A collection of short thoughts and verse on natural and other topics such as: matter, nature, infinite knowledge, vacuum, division, pleasure, senses, thinking, animals, optics, planets, etc.

The World's Olio

 

1655

Note: the term ‘olio’ means a ‘miscellaneous collection of things.’

A collection of short essays on a variety of social topics such as fame, why men write books, translating, languages, music, dancing, virtues and vices, mind and body, riches and poverty, etc. It contains references to various historical and mythological figures.

Philosophical and Physical Opinions

 

1655

Offers explanations of various natural phenomena such as life, death, growth, passions, light, earth, water, air, fire, and diseases, in terms of motion as well as in non-mechanistic terms. The work also discusses variety in nature and the possibility of our knowledge of nature. The front matters includes the Condemning Treatise of Atomes, which is sometimes interpreted as a rejection her earlier atomistic views.

Nature's Pictures

 

1656

 

A collection of stories in verse, prose and dialogues mostly on the topic of love, in which Cavendish discusses the position of women in society. She also satirizes the use of tobacco. The first edition (but not the second 1671 edition) contains an autobiographical letter titled ‘A True Relation of my Birth, Breeding and Life.’

Plays

1662

 

The first collection of plays includes fourteen pieces, many of which comment on the position of women in society:

Loves Adventures

The Several Wits

Youths Glory, and Death’s Banquet

The Lady Contemplation

Wits Cabal

The Unnatural Tragedy

The Public Wooing

The Matrimonial Trouble

Nature's Three Daughters, Beauty, Love and Wit

The Religious

The Comical Hash

Bell in Campo

A Comedy of the Apocryphal Ladies

The Female Academy

Orations of Divers Sorts

 

1662

A collection of oratory speeches which present multiple opposing views on subjects to do with a fictional society which is on the brink of civil war. The orations take up subjects such as the pros and cons of peace and war, the levying of taxes, theft, adultery, and virtues appropriate to private and public life. Some of the orations also explore the position of women in society, and discuss the reasons for women’s subordinate position to men, including their lack of educational opportunities.

Sociable Letters

1664

 

A collection of fictional and partly auto-biographical letters between two gentlewomen. The witty letters discuss a variety of social topics from daily life, notably love and the institution of marriage. The work is often interpreted as a critique of marriage.

Philosophical Letters

1664

 

The work presents Cavendish’s natural philosophy and engages with the ideas of Hobbes, Descartes, Henry More, J.B. Van Helmont, and other seventeenth-century philosophers such as Robert Boyle and William Harvey. For example, Cavendish discusses their mechanical explanations of perception, light and colors, the view that motion can be transferred, and their views on immaterial substances. She also discusses the limits of human knowledge. The work is often interpreted as a critical response to these philosophers.

Stewart Duncan’s overview of the Letters:

Table of contents and sources link

Cross-listed at The Digital Cavendish Project

A handful of the letters are reproduced online here

Observations upon Experimental Philosophy

 

 

1666

The work discusses the mechanical, corpuscular and experimental philosophy promoted by the Royal Society, and the use of new instruments such as microscopes and telescopes. It is often interpreted as a direct critique of the Royal Society’s work, especially Robert Hooke’s Micrographia and Robert Boyle’s experiments. The work also discusses mechanistic explanations of natural phenomena and atomism.

Some scholars suggest that the Observations and The Blazing World, which were initially published together, should be viewed as philosophical companion pieces despite their different genres.

The Blazing World

(published with Observations)

 

1666

 

A fictional sci-fi utopia, which tells a story of a woman who is abducted from her world and becomes the Empress of a different world, where she proceeds to set up learned societies, study immaterial spirits, and wage futuristic-style warfare back in her own world. The Duchess of Newcastle acts as an adviser to the Empress. The work is considered a forerunner of science fiction, and is often interpreted as a satire of the Royal Society and the irrelevance of its methods for effective political governance.

The Life of William

 

1667

A biography of her husband, William Cavendish, the first Duke of Newcastle. The biography became very popular and was reprinted several times.

Plays, Never Before Printed

 

1668

 

The second collection of plays consists of six new pieces. Like her first collection of plays, the second set comments on women’s’ position in society. Many of them also poke fun at the dashing ‘rake’ lover ideal of the Restoration period.

The Sociable Companions, or the Female Wits

The Presence

Scenes (edited from The Presence)

The Bridals

The Convent of Pleasure

A Piece of a Play

Grounds of Natural Philosophy

(3rd edition of Philosophical and Physical Opinions)

 

1668

A revised second edition of Philosophical and Physical Opinions. The work, split into thirteen sections, presents Cavendish’s view on natural philosophy and its implications for a variety of natural phenomena, such as perception, animal and human reproduction, appetites and passions, human dreams, illness, etc. It also discusses natural phenomena such as fire, tides, wind, the motions of the planets, etc.

The work includes five appendices on the topics of immaterial spirits, possibility of other worlds, happiness of creatures, natural conditions in an irregular world, and the possibility of resurrection by means of restoring beds or ‘wombs.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Secondary sources guide

The following reference list focuses on scholarship that is most relevant to philosophy. The list is by no means exhaustive, as Cavendish is a very popular figure in many humanistic disciplines and the scholarly literature is vast. A critical treatise of Cavendish’s philosophy from an analytic philosophy perspective has not yet been published, although new scholarship is forthcoming.

 


Bibliographies

For extensive bibliographies categorized according to topic, please consult the following resources:

 

James, Susan, ed. 2003. Margaret Cavendish: Political Writings. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ Press. (See pp. xxxiv-xxxix of the Introduction)

O'Neill, Eileen. 2001. Margaret Cavendish: Observations upon Experimental Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (See Further Reading, pp. xlii-xliv.)

Weise, Wendy. 2012. "Recent Studies in Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (2001-2010)." English Literary Renaissance 42 (1): 146-176.

The Margaret Cavendish Bibliography Initiative of the International Margaret Cavendish Society, maintained by graduates at Brigham Young University since 2012.

 


Introductory resources

Some introductory resources for students and instructors who are just starting to explore Cavendish’s natural and political philosophy are:

 

Chapter in Jacqueline Broad’s Women Philosophers of the Seventeenth Century (2002)

David Cunning’s article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Introduction by Susan James to her edition of Margaret Cavendish: Political Writings (2003)

Introduction by Eileen O'Neill to her edition of Observations Upon Experimental Philosophy (2001)

Lisa Sarasohn’s book The Natural Philosophy of Margaret Cavendish: Reason and Fancy During the Scientific Revolution (2010)


 

Edited collections

Two recent edited collections include essays on various aspects of Cavendish’s life and work, including her natural philosophy:

 

Stephen Clucas, A Princely Brave Woman: Essays on Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (2003)

Sara Mendelson, Margaret Cavendish (2009)

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.1 Secondary sources

Selected reference works & encyclopedia articles

Knight, Joseph. 1917. "Cavendish, Margaret." In The Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. 3, edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

O'Neill, Eileen. "Cavendish, Margaret Lucas (1623-1673)." In Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vol. 1, edited by E. Craig.

Schiebinger, Londa. 1987. "Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle: Natural Philosopher (1617-1673)." Resources for Feminist Research 16 (3).

______. 1991. "Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle." In Modern Women philosophers, 1600-1900, Vol. 3, edited by Mary Ellen Waithe. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

 


Selected secondary sources in philosophy

Alic, Margaret. 1986. "The Rise of the Scientific Lady." In Hypatia's Heritage: a History of Women in Science from Antiquity Through the Nineteenth Century, edited by Margaret Alic. Boston: Beacon Press.

Ankers, Neil. 2000. "Margaret Cavendish and the Nature of the Individual." In-between: Essays and Studies in Literary Criticism 9 (1-2): 301-315.

______. 2003. "Paradigms and Politics: Hobbes and Cavendish Contrasted " In A Princely Brave Woman: Essays on Margaret Cavendish, edited by Stephen Clucas. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Apostalova, Iva. 2010. "Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia and Margaret Cavendish: The Feminine Touch in Seventeenth-Century Epistemology." Maritain Studies/Etudes Maritainiennes 26: 83-97.

Barnes, Diana. 2009. "Familiar Epistolary Philosophy: Margaret Cavendish's Philosophical Letters (1664)." Parergon: Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies 26 (2): 39-64.

Battigelli, Anna. 1998. Margaret Cavendish and the Exiles of the Mind, Studies in the English Renaissance. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky.

______. 1998. "Political thought/political action: Margaret Cavendish's Hobbesian dilemma." In Women Writers and the Early Modern British Political Tradition, edited by Hilda L. Smith and Carole Pateman. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Bertuol, Roberto. 2001. "The Square Circle of Margaret Cavendish: the 17th Century Conceptualization of Mind by Means of Mathematics." Language and Literature 10 (1): 21-39.

Blaydes, Sophia B. 1988. "Nature Is a Woman: The Duchess of Newcastle and Seventeenth-Century Philosophy." In Man, God, and Nature in the Enlightenment, edited by Donald C. Mell, Jr., Theodore E. D. Braun and Lucia M. Palmer. East Lansing, MI: Colleagues.

Bordo, Susan. 1999. "Women Cartesians, 'Feminine Philosophy,' and Historical Exclusion." In Feminist Interpretations of René Descartes, edited by Susan Bordo. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press.

Borlik, Todd. 2008. "The Whale under the Microscope: Technology and Objectivity in Two Renaissance Utopias." In Philosophies of Technology: Francis Bacon and His Contemporaries, edited by Claus Zittel, Gisela Engel, Romano Nanni and Nicole C. Karafyllis. Leiden: Brill.

Boyle, Deborah. 2004. "Margaret Cavendish's Nonfeminist Natural Philosophy." Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology 12 (2): 195-227.

______. 2006. "Fame, Virtue, and Government: Margaret Cavendish on Ethics and Politics." Journal of the History of Ideas 67 (2): 251-289.

______. 2013. "Margaret Cavendish." Philosophers' Magazine 60 (1): 63 - 65.

______. 2013. "Margaret Cavendish on Gender, Nature, and Freedom." Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy 28 (3): 516-532.

Broad, Jacqueline. 2002. Women Philosophers of the Seventeenth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

______. 2007. "Margaret Cavendish and Joseph Glanvill: Science, Religion, and Witchcraft." Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 38 (3): 493-505.

______. 2011. "Cavendish, Van Helmont and the Mad Raging Womb." In The New Science and Women's Literary Discourse: Prefiguring Frankenstein, edited by Judy A. Hayden. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

______. 2011. "Is Margaret Cavendish Worthy of Study Today?" Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 42 (3): 457-461.

______. 2012. "Impressions in the Brain: Malebranche on Women, and Women on Malebranche." Intellectual History Review 22 (3): 373-389.

Broad, Jacqueline, and Karen Green. 2009. "Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle." In A History of Women's Political Thought in Europe, 1400-1700, edited by Jacqueline Broad and Karen Green. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Clairhout, Isabelle, and Sandro Jung. 2011. "Cavendish's Body of Knowledge." English Studies: A Journal of English Language and Literature 92 (7): 729-743.

Clucas, Stephen. 1994. "The Atomism of the Cavendish Circle: a Reappraisal." The Seventeenth Century 9: 247–273.

______. 2000. "The Duchess and the Viscountess: Negotiations between Mechanism and Vitalism in the Natural Philosophies of Margaret Cavendish and Anne Conway." In-between: Essays and Studies in Literary Criticism 9 (1-2): 125-136.

______, ed. 2003. A Princely Brave Woman: Essays on Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle. Aldershot: Ashgate.

______. 2003. "Variation, Irregularity, and Probabilism: Margaret Cavendish and Natural Philosophy as Rhetoric." In A Princely Brave Woman: Essays on Margaret Cavendish, edited by Stephen Clucas. Aldershot: Ashgate.

______. 2011. "Margaret Cavendish's Materialist Critique of Van Helmontian Chymistry." Ambix 58 (1): 1-12.

Correard, Nicolas. 2013. "Anti-Scientific Scepticism and Early Satires of the Royal Society: Exposing the Fictions of Experimental Science in Samuel Butler, Margaret Cavendish and Jonathon Swift (1660-1730)." Science et Esprit: Revue de philosophie et de théologie 65 (3): 325-342.

Cottegnies, Line, and Nancy Weitz, eds. 2003. Authorial conquests : essays on genre in the writings of Margaret Cavendish. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press; Associated University Presses.

Cunning, David. 2006. "Cavendish on the Intelligibility of the Prospect of Thinking Matter." History of Philosophy Quarterly 23 (2): 117-136.

______. 2012. "Margaret Lucas Cavendish." In Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Dear, Peter. 2007. "A Philosophical Duchess: Understanding Margaret Cavendish and the Royal Society." In Science, Literature, and Rhetoric in Early Modern England, edited by Juliet Cummins and David Burchell. Aldershot, England: Ashgate.

Detlefsen, Karen. 2006. "Atomism, Monism, and Causation in the Natural Philosophy of Margaret Cavendish." Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy 3: 199-240.

______. 2007. "Reason and Freedom: Margaret Cavendish on the Order and Disorder of Nature." Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 89 (2): 157-191.

______. 2009. "Margaret Cavendish on the Relation between God and World." Philosophy Compass 4 (3): 421-438.

______. 2012. "Margaret Cavendish and Thomas Hobbes on Freedom, Education, and Women." In Feminist Interpretations of Thomas Hobbes, edited by Nancy J. Hirschmann and Joanne H. Wright. College Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.

Duncan, Stewart. 2012. "Debating Materialism: Cavendish, Hobbes, and More." History of Philosophy Quarterly 29 (4): 391-409.

Fitzmaurice, Susan. 2003. "Margaret Cavendish, the Doctors of Physick and Advice to the Sick." In A Princely Brave Woman: Essays on Margaret Cavendish, edited by Stephen Clucas. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Green, Karen, and Jacqueline Broad. 2006. "Fictions of a Feminine Philosophical Persona: Christine de Pizan, Margaret Cavendish and Philosophia Lost." In The Philosopher in Early Modern Europe: the Nature of a Contested Identity, edited by Conal Condren, Stephen Gaukroger and Ian Hunter. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Harris, Frances. 1997. "Living in the Neighbourhood of Science: Mary Evelyn, Margaret Cavendish and the Greshamites." In Women, Science and Medicine: 1500-1700. Mothers and Sisters of the Royal Society, edited by Lynette Hunter and Sarah Hutton. Stroud: Alan Sutton.

Hutton, Sarah. 1997. "Anne Conway, Margaret Cavendish and Seventeenth Century-Scientific Thought." In Women, Science and Medicine 1500-1700, edited by Lynette Hunter and Sarah Hutton.

______. 1997. "In dialogue with Thomas Hobbes: Margaret Cavendish's natural philosophy." Women's Writing 4 (3): 421-432.

______. 2003. "Margaret Cavendish and Henry More." In A Princely Brave Woman: Essays on Margaret Cavendish, edited by Stephen Clucas. Aldershot: Ashgate.

______. 2004. "John Finch, Thomas Hobbes and Margaret Cavendish." In Anne Conway: a Woman Philosopher, edited by Sarah Hutton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

______. 2009. "In Dialogue with Thomas Hobbes: Margaret Cavendish's Natural Philosophy." In Margaret Cavendish, edited by Sara H. Mendelson. Farnham: Ashgate.

James, Susan. 1999. "The Philosophical Innovations of Margaret Cavendish." British Journal for the History of Philosophy 7 (2): 219-244.

______. 2003. "Introduction." In Margaret Cavendish: Political Writings, edited by Susan James. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

______. 2009. "The Philosophical Innovations of Margaret Cavendish." In Margaret Cavendish, edited by Sara H. Mendelson. Farnham: Ashgate.

Kargon, Robert Hugh. 1966. Atomism in England from Hariot to Newton. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Keller, Eve. 1997. "Producing Petty Gods: Margaret Cavendish's Critique of Experimental Science." ELH 64 (2): 447-471.

Lewis, Eric. 2001. "The Legacy of Margaret Cavendish." Perspectives on Science: Historical, Philosophical, Social 9 (3): 341-365.

Linden, Stanton J. 2001. "Margaret Cavendish and Robert Hooke: Optics and Scientific Fantasy in The Blazing World." In Esotérisme, Gnoses & Imaginaire Symbolique: Mélanges Offerts à Antoine Faivre, edited by Richard Caron, Joscelyn Godwin, Wouter J. Hanegraaff and Jean-Louis Vieillard-Baron. Louvain: Peeters.

Lynch, Marianne. 2008. "A Perfect Stranger: The Development of Margaret Cavendish's Natural Philosophy." PhD Dissertation, Concordia University, Canada.

Malcolmson, Cristina. 2013. Studies of Skin Color in the Early Royal Society: Boyle, Cavendish, Swift, Literary and Scientific Cultures of Early Modernity. Burlington: Ashgate.

Mendelson, Sara Heller, ed. 2009. Margaret Cavendish. Surrey: Ashgate.

Merchant, Carolyn. 1989. The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution. New York: Harper & Row.

Merrens, Rebecca. 1996. "A Nature of 'Infinite Sense and Reason': Margaret Cavendish's Natural Philosophy and the 'Noise' of a Feminized Nature." Women's Studies 25 (5): 421-38.

Michaelian, Kourken. 2009. "Margaret Cavendish's Epistemology." British Journal for the History of Philosophy 17 (1): 31-53.

Mintz, Samuel. 1952. "The Duchess of Newcastle's Visit to the Royal Society." The Journal of English and German Philology 51: 168-76.

Monroy-Nasr, Zuraya. 2003. "Epistemología y Sujeto en la Filosofía Antimecanicista de Margaret Cavendish." Revista Latinoamericana de Filosofia 29 (2): 185-198.

Nelson, Holly Faith, and Sharon Alker. 2014. "'Perfect according to Their Kind': Deformity, Defect, and Disease in the Natural Philosophy of Margaret Cavendish." In The Idea of Disability in the Eighteenth Century, edited by Chris Mounsey. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press.

O'Neill, Eileen. 2001. "Introduction." In Margaret Cavendish: Observations upon Experimental Philosophy, edited by Eileen O'Neill. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2001).

______. 2013. "Margaret Cavendish, Stoic Antecedent Causes, and Early Modern Occasional Causes." Revue Philosophique de la France et de l'Etranger 138 (3): 311-326.

Parageau, Sandrine. 2008. "The Function of Analogy in the Scientific Theories of Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673) and Anne Conway (1631-1679)." Etudes Epistémè 14: 89-104.

______. 2010. "Catching the 'Genius of the Age': Margaret Cavendish, Historian and Witness." Etudes Epistémè 17: 55-67.

Parageau, Sandrine, and Line Cottegnies. 2008. "La Contribution des Femmes au Débat Philosophique en Angleterre au Milieu du XVIIe Siècle Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673), Anne Conway (1631-1679), et la Philosophie de la Nature." PhD Dissertation, Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris).

Rees, Emma L. E. 2003. Margaret Cavendish: Gender, Genre, Exile. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press.

______. 2004. "Margaret Cavendish: Gender, Genre, Exile." British Journal for the History of Philosophy 12 (4): 731-741.

Robinson, Leni. 2009. "A Figurative Matter: Continuities Between Margaret Cavendish's Theory of Discourse and her Natural Philosophy." PhD Dissertation, University of British Columbia, Canada.

Rogers, John. 1996. The Matter of Revolution: Science, Poetry, and Politics in the Age of Milton. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Rudan, Paola. 2011. "Il Centro Eccentrico: Le Donne, il Femminismo e il Soggetto a Sesso Unico." Filosofia Politica 25 (3): 365-383.

Sarasohn, Lisa T. 1984. "A Science Turned Upside Down: Feminism and the Natural Philosophy of Margaret Cavendish." Huntington Library Quarterly: A Journal for the History and Interpretation of English and American Civilization 47 (4): 289-307.

______.1999. "Margaret Cavendish and Patronage." Endeavour 23 (3): 130-32.

______. 1999. "Thomas Hobbes and the Duke of Newcastle: A Study in the Mutuality of Patronage before the Establishment of the Royal Society." Isis 90 (4): 715-737.

______. 2003. "Leviathan and the Lady: Cavendish's Critique of Hobbes in the Philosophical Letters." In Authorial Conquests: Essays on Genre in the Writings of Margaret Cavendish, edited by Line Cottegnies and Nancy Weitz. Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press; Associated University Presses.

______.2009. "A Science Turned Upside Down: Feminism and the Natural Philosophy of Margaret Cavendish." In Margaret Cavendish, edited by Sara H. Mendelson. Farnham, England: Ashgate.

______. 2010. The Natural Philosophy of Margaret Cavendish: Reason and Fancy During the Scientific Revolution. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

______. 2011. "Margaret Cavendish, William Newcastle, and Political Marginalization." English Studies 92 (7): 806-817.

Sarasohn, Lisa T., and Brandie R. Siegfried, eds. 2014. God and Nature in the Thought of Margaret Cavendish. Farnham: Ashgate.

Schiebinger, Londa. 1991. "Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle." In Modern Women philosophers, 1600-1900, Vol. 3, edited by Mary Ellen Waithe. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

Semler, L. E. 2012. "Margaret Cavendish's Early Engagement with Descartes and Hobbes: Philosophical Revisitation and Poetic Selection." Intellectual History Review 22 (3): 327-353.

Sheehan, Richard Johnson, and Denise Tillery. 2001. "Margaret Cavendish, Natural Philosopher: Negotiating Between the Metaphors of the Old and New Sciences." Eighteenth Century Women 1: 1-18.

Siegfried, Brandie R. 2003. "Anecdotal and Cabalistic Forms in Observations upon Experimental Philosophy." In Authorial Conquests: Essays on Genre in the Writings of Margaret Cavendish, edited by Line Cottegnies and Nancy Weitz. Madison, NJ; London: Fairleigh Dickinson UP; Associated UP.

Smith, Hilda L. 2005. "The Many Representations of the Marquise Du Chatelet." In Men, Women, and the Birthing of Modern Science, edited by Judith P Zinsser. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press.

______. 2005. "Margaret Cavendish and the Microscope as Play." In Men, Women, and the Birthing of Modern Science, edited by Judith P Zinsser, pp. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press.

______. 2007. "Margaret Cavendish and the False Universal." In Virtue, Liberty, and Toleration: Political Ideas of European women, 1400-1800, edited by Jacqueline Broad and Karen Green. Dordrecht: Springer.

Stevenson, Jay. 1996. "The Mechanist-Vitalist Soul of Margaret Cavendish." Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 36 (3): 527-543.

Strauss, Elisabeth Wilhelmine. 1993. "Organismus versus Maschine: Margaret Cavendish Kritik am Mechanistischen Naturmodell." In Das Sichtbare Denken, Modelle and Modellhaftigkeit in der Philosophie un den Wissenschaften, edited by Jorge Mass. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

______. 1997. "Die Naturphilosophie von Margaret Cavendish (1623 - 1673) im Umfeld von Thomas Hobbes, Henry More und den Empiristen der Royal Society." PhD dissertation, Frei Universiteit, Berlin, Germany.

______. 1999. Die Arithmetik der Leidenschaften: Margaret Cavendish's Naturphilosophie. Stuttgart: Metzler-Verlag.

Tillery, Denise. 2003. "Margaret Cavendish as Natural Philosopher: Gender and Early Modern Science." Interdisciplinary Science Reviews 28: 200–08.

______. 2007. "'English Them in the Easiest Manner You Can': Margaret Cavendish on the Discourse and Practice of Natural Philosophy." Rhetoric Review 26 (3): 268-285.

Wallraven, Miriam. 2004. "'My Spirits Long to Wander in the Air … ': Spirits and Souls in Margaret Cavendish's Fiction between Early Modern Philosophy and Cyber Theory." Early Modern Literary Studies: A Journal of Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century English Literature 14.

Wallwork, Jo. 2001. "Old Worlds and New: Margaret Cavendish's Response to Robert Hooke's Micrographia." In Women Writing, 1550-1750, edited by Jo Wallwork and Paul Salzman. Bundoora, Australia: Meridian.

Walters, Lisa. 2014. Margaret Cavendish: Gender, Science and Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Webster, Erin. 2011. "Margaret Cavendish's Socio-Political Interventions into Descartes' Philosophy." English Studies 92 (7): 711-728.

Weise, Wendy S. 2012. "Recent Studies in Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (2001-2010)." English Literary Renaissance 42 (1): 146-176.

Weststeijn, Thijs. 2008. Margaret Cavendish in de Nederlanden: Filosofie en schilderkunst in de Gouden Eeuw. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Wilson, Catherine. 2007. "Two Opponents of Material Atomism: Cavendish and Leibniz." In Leibniz and the English-Speaking World, edited by P. Phemister and Stuart Brown. Dordrecht: Springer.

Wolfe, Charles. 2013. "Vitalism and the Resistance to Experimentation on Life in the Eighteenth Century." Journal of the History of Biology 46 (2): 255-282.


Selected secondary sources in Political Philosophy

Boyle, Deborah. 2006. "Fame, Virtue, and Government: Margaret Cavendish on Ethics and Politics." Journal of the History of Ideas 67 (2): 251-289.

Broad, Jacqueline, and Karen Green, eds. 2007. Virtue, Liberty, and Toleration: Political Ideas of European Women, 1400-1800. Dordrecht: Springer.

______, eds. 2009. A History of Women's Political Thought in Europe, 1400-1700 . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Detlefsen, Karen. 2012. "Margaret Cavendish and Thomas Hobbes on Freedom, Education, and Women." In Feminist Interpretations of Thomas Hobbes, edited by Nancy J. Hirschmann and Joanne H. Wright. College Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.

Iyengar, Sujata. 2002. "Royalist, Romancist, Racialist: Rank, Gender, and Race in the Science and Fiction of Margaret Cavendish." ELH 69 (3): 649-672.

James, Susan. 2003. "Introduction." In Margaret Cavendish: Political Writings, edited by Susan James. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

______, ed. 2003. Margaret Cavendish: Political Writings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rogers, John. 1996. The Matter of Revolution: Science, Poetry, and Politics in the Age of Milton. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Rudan, Paola. 2011. "Il Centro Eccentrico: Le donne, il Femminismo e il Soggetto a Sesso Unico." Filosofia Politica 25 (3): 365-383.

Webster, Erin. 2011. "Margaret Cavendish's Socio-Political Interventions into Descartes' Philosophy." English Studies: A Journal of English Language and Literature 92 (7): 711-728.

 


Selected biographical studies

Ballard, George. 1775. Memoirs of Several Ladies of Great Britain: Who Have Been Celebrated for their Writings or Skill in the Learned Languages, Arts, and Sciences . London: Printed for T. Evans, in the Strand, Near York-Buildings.

Ballard, George, and Ruth Perry, eds. 1985. Memoirs of Several Ladies of Great Britain: Who Have Been Celebrated for their Writings or Skill in the Learned Languages, Arts, and Sciences. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.

Bartow, Virginia. 1957. "Philosophical Studies of the Duchess of Newcastle." Journal of Chemical Education 34 (2): 82-87.

Beneden, Ben van, and Nora de Poorter, eds. 2006. Royalist Refugees: William and Margaret Cavendish in the Rubens House, 1648-1660 . Antwerp: Rubenshuis & Rubenianum.

Grant, Douglas. 1957. Margaret the First: Biography of Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, 1623-1673. London: Hart-Davis.

Jones, Kathleen. 1988. A Glorious Fame: the Life of Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (1623-1673). London: Bloomsbury.

Mendelson, Sara Heller. 1987. The Mental World of Stuart Women: Three Studies. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press.

De Longueville, Thomas. 1910. The First Duke and Duchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. By the Author of "A Life of Sir Kenelm Digby" [i.e. Thomas Longueville] ... With illustrations. London: Longmans & Co.

Perry, Henry Ten Eyck. 1918. The First Duchess of Newcastle and her Husband as Figures in Literary History. Boston and London: Ginn and Company.

Trease, Geoffrey. 1979. Portrait of a Cavalier: William Cavendish, First Duke of Newcastle. New York: Taplinger.

Whitaker, Katie. 2002. Mad Madge: the Extraordinary Life of Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, the First Woman to Live by her Pen. New York: Basic Books.

Woolf, Virginia. 1925. "The Duchess of Newcastle." In The Common Reader, edited by Virginia Woolf. London: L. & V. Woolf at the Hogarth Press.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Philosophy & Teaching

This section is forthcoming. Our team is working with the Advisory Board on materials interpreting Cavendish’s philosophical work and accompanying teaching materials. In the meantime, please see the Teaching section of the website for sample syllabi.

 

Videos

Project Vox has partnered with the Wireless Philosophy project to create educational videos on various topics related to the women philosophers. Please subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of new video resources.

Cavendish, Part 1  - Introduction

Cavendish, Part 2  - Introduction con’t.

 

 

 

 

5. Correspondence

Please note that just as there is no authoritative edition of Cavendish’s work, there is no comprehensive edition of her extant correspondence. More research on her correspondence and extant manuscripts is forthcoming. Below is information on some of the frequently cited sources of Cavendish’s correspondence.

 


Philosophical correspondence

Cavendish was able to engage only a few philosophers in more extensive correspondence. The two key extant exchanges are with Constantijn Huygens and Joseph Glanvill, and are covered in detail in Sections 5.1 and 5.2. The correspondence with Huygens covers (1653-1671) and discusses the phenomenon of Rupert’s Drops and Cavendish’s presentation of her works to the University of Leiden. The correspondence with John Glanvill (probably 1667-1668) discusses topics such as pre-existence of the souls, Platonist views on substance, and the existence of witches.

 


A Collection of Letters and Poems

A key source of correspondence is the collection of poems and letters sent to Cavendish and her husband William, which William published in 1678 after her death: A Collection of Letters and Poems Microform / Written by Several Persons of Honour and Learning, upon Divers Important Subjects, to the late Duke and Dutchess of Newcastle. It also includes a number of eulogies dedicated to Cavendish. The collection is from a variety of authors, poets such as Thomas Shadwell, academics from Cambridge University, and natural philosophers such as Walter Charleton, Kenelm Digby, Thomas Hobbes, Constantijn Huygens, Joseph Glanville, and Henry More. Cavendish knew most of these philosophers through her husband and his brother Charles Cavendish, who actively promoted the new experimental philosophy and sponsored philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes (see Section 6 on Connections.)

Many of these letters are polite thank you letters full of praise for Cavendish’s presents of her works. Cavendish was in the habit of sending expensively printed copies of her own books to eminent scholars and university libraries, including Oxford, Cambridge and Leiden, in order to gain public recognition. Cavendish’s high social position and the support of her politically, academically, as well as financially well-connected husband William enabled her to do so. The lucky recipients were thus obliged by social convention, and sometimes by the need for patronage, to accept and praise the presents. Cavendish’s approach was scandalous at a time when women were expected to stay out of public limelight, or at the very least to publish their thoughts anonymously. This was the path taken by Conway and Masham, but Cavendish preferred to be ridiculed by society rather than stay silent. There is scholarly debate, however, as to whether her strategy worked: there is general agreement that she was not taken seriously by her contemporaries, but it is not clear whether this was because of the quality of her philosophical ideas, the non-conventional genres she used to express them, or because of her blatant disregard for social conventions.

 

Primary source

Cavendish, William, Duke of Newcastle, ed. 1678. A Collection of Letters and Poems Microform / Written by Several Persons of Honour and Learning, upon Divers Important Subjects, to the late Duke and Dutchess of Newcastle. London: Printed by Langly Curtis in Goat Yard on Ludgate Hill.


Spreadsheet overview of the Letters and Poems is available for download below. Please note that there are two worksheets; one with all the letters and one with only the letters from philosophers.

Excel file


 

Courtship letters and poems

Another source of correspondence are the courtship poems and letters that William and Margaret Lucas wrote to each other in 1645. The letters are only available in the 1956 edition by Douglas Grant. The poems are available in the English Poetry (proprietary) online database. (Information on manuscripts is forthcoming.)


 

Letter to John Evelyn

There is also an extant letter from Cavendish to John Evelyn (1620-1706), writer, diarist, botanist, and one of the founding members of the Royal Society. The letter is reprinted in the Diary and Correspondence of John Evelyn (1857) edited by William Bray. In the letter Cavendish thanks Evelyn for sending her his work Sylva, or a Discourse of Forest-Trees and the Propagation of Timber in his Majesty’s Dominions (1664). Evelyn originally presented his work as a paper at the Royal Society in 1662. It became one of the most influential works on the topic of forestry. The letter is available via Hathi Trust and for download below.

Digital copy of letter: PDF file

Hathi Trust link

John Evelyn by Robert Walker, 1648

 

Reprints of primary sources

Bray, Willliam, ed. 1857. Diary and Correspondence of John Evelyn, Vol. 3. London: Henry Colburn. (See pg. 226)

Grant, Douglas, ed. 1956. The Phanseys of William Cavendish, Marquis of Newcastle, Addressed to Margaret Lucas. London: Nonsuch.

 

Secondary sources

Chambers, Douglas D.C. 2004-15. "Evelyn, John (1620–1706)." In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Online Edition, Jan 2008), edited by David Cannadine. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Link.

Hunter, Michael. 2004-15. "Founder members of the Royal Society (act. 1660–1663)." In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Online Edition), edited by David Cannadine. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Link.

Fitzmaurice, James. 2004. The Intellectual and Literary Courtship of Margaret Cavendish. Early Modern Literary Studies Special Issue 14. Link.

 

For image sources and permissions please see our image gallery

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.1 Correspondence with Constantijn Huygens

Huygens, Constantijn (1596 – 1687) was Dutch diplomat, composer, poet, writer and scholar, and the father of the scientist and mathematician Christiaan Huygens. He was also the Secretary to two Princes of Orange, Frederick Henry and William II. Huygens grew up in the French-Dutch environment of the Netherlands, and was fluent in in Dutch, English, French, and Latin. As a result, he was extremely well connected in the political and scholarly circles on the European Continent and in England, with scholars estimating that he wrote and received more than 100,000 letters in his lifetime – 10,000 of which are still extant today. Among his correspondence are more than hundred-twenty letters with René Descartes, whom he assisted with the publication of his Discours de la Méthode (1637). He also maintained close relationships and numerous correspondence women. Among the aristocracy he kept in touch with Cavendish, Elizabeth Stuart Queen of Bohemia, and Queen Christina of Sweden, but he also kept in touch with female scholars such as Anna Maria Van Schurman, poets, ladies in waiting, and other female relations of his male contacts (Huysman and Leerintveld, 2014).

 


Content of correspondence

Huygens met Cavendish in person in Antwerp in 1657, when she and her husband were in political exile in Antwerp (1648-1660). They probably met once more in February 1658 (Akkerman & Corporaal, 2009.) They corresponded during her stay in the Netherlands and kept in touch even after Cavendish’s return back to England. Their extant correspondence dates from 1657-1671. The first four letters discuss the phenomenon of Rupert’s Drops, with both Cavendish and Huygens attempting to give an explanation. The drops were named after Prince Rupert of the Rhine who first brought the drops to England. The drops are produced by dripping molten glass into cold water, and the result is tadpole-shaped glass object which has very strange properties: the “head” is unbreakable and can withstand hammer blows, whereas the sligthest disturbance to the tail makes the entire object explode. The phenomenon was considered highly puzzling in the seventeenth century, with even the Sun King of France, Louis XIV, taking an interest. They were also debated by the Royal Society in London, and Robert Hooke discusses them in his work Micrographia (1665).

After her departure from Netherlands, Cavendish kept in touch with Huygens and regularly sent him new publications of her works. The next three letters concern Cavendish’s request to Huygens to present a gift volume of her works, including Poems and Fancies, Nature's Pictures, The World's Olio, and Philosophical and Physical Opinions, to the Rector of the University of Leiden. Huygens executed the request, and Rector presented in he works in a public meeting in front of the Academic Senate and sent Cavendish a grateful letter of acceptance. The volumes are still extant at the university library today (Akkerman & Corporaal 2009).

The final three letters of the correspondence are social and polite in nature.


Short and fun educational video on Rupert’s Drops from SmarterEveryDay.

Hooke’s description in Micrographia, courtesy of Hathi Trust (pp.33-44, also PDF below).

 


Extant correspondence

There are a total of eleven extant letters whose content scholars have access to. Eight of the letters that Huygens and Cavendish exchanged survive in manuscript: four by Huygens to Cavendish, and four by Cavendish to Huygens. There are three additional letters to supplement the correspondence: a letter from Huygens to Utricia Swann, which mentions Cavendish; a letter from Cavendish to Huygens which is in a private collection; and a letter from Huygens to Cavendish which is not extant, but which was reprinted by Sir William Cavendish after Cavendish’s death in A Collection of Letters and Poems Microform (1678). All of the letters are in English.

Until recently, the canonical edition of Huygens’s letters was by J.A. Worp, De Briefwisseling Van Constantijn Huygens (1916 & 1917). Worp’s edition was important for the preservation of Huygens’s correspondence, but it did not conform to current scholarly practices. For example, some of the letters are abridged or summarized, including two of the letters in the Cavendish-Huygens correspondence.


Akkerman & Corporaal research

Nadine Akkerman and Marguerite Corporaal’s recently brought attention to the Cavendish-Huygens correspondence, and identified two additional letters that are not in the Worp edition. One is in the Collection of Letters and one is in a private collection. They have also carefully transcribed the manuscripts, including Huygens’s corrections.

Their research and the transcript of the letters, including the two additional ones, is available online here.

 


Huygens Institute Digital Project

The Huygens Institute of Dutch History and National Library of the Netherlands provides a new digital edition of the complete Huygens correspondence, including that with Cavendish. The digital edition includes information on letter and manuscript location, manuscript images, links to relevant secondary literature, as well as PDF and OTC versions of the Worp edition. The digital edition also aims to aid scholars in letter analysis, including analysis of Huygens’s communication with women. Please note that the edition does not (as yet) include the two additional letters identified by Akkerman and Corporaal.

For more information on Huygens’s correspondence and the digital project see:

Huysman, I., and A. Leerintveld. 2014. "New Perspectives of the Digitized Correspondence of Constantijn Huygens (1596-1687)." Dutch Crossing Dutch Crossing 38 (3): 244-258.

The Cavendish letters can be found here.

Portal for all Huygens letters can be found here.


Downloads

Spreadsheet overview of correspondence: Excel file

Worp edition (includes 9 letters), courtesy of Huygens Institute digital project: PDF file

Robert Hooke’s discussion of Rupert's Drops in Micrographia, courtesy of Hathi Trust: PDF file
 

 

Contents of letters

Date

Author

Content description

5 / 15 September 1653

Huygens, Constantijn

(to Utricia Swann)

Personal letter to Utricia, where he mentions Cavendish's style of dress as the height of fashion, and her work Poems and Fancies.

12 March 1657

Huygens, Constantijn

Huygens asks Cavendish for her views on the phenomenon of Rupert's Drops.

20 March 1657

Cavendish, Margaret

Cavendish thanks Huygens for some poetry and discusses the Rupert's Drops.

27 March 1657

Huygens, Constantijn

Huygens discusses Rupert's Drops.

30 March 1657

Cavendish, Margaret

Cavendish discuses Rupert's Drops.

27 October 1658

Cavendish, Margaret

Cavendish asks Huygens to present her works to the University of Leiden.

28 November 1658

Huygens, Constantijn

In this letter, Huygens writes to Cavendish that he presented her works (gift volume including Poems and Fancies, Nature's Pictures, The World's Olio, and Philosophical and Physical Opinions) to the Rector of the University of Leiden. Enclosed he sends the thank you letter from the Rector.

11 January 1659

Cavendish, Margaret

Cavendish states that she was prevented from replying earlier because of a toothache. She thanks Huygens for his "great favor," which scholars interpret as her thanking Huygens for presenting her works to the University of Leiden.

15 July 1660

Cavendish, Margaret

In the letter Cavendish asks Huygens for help with obtaining a pass so that her luggage could be transported back to England.

2 / 12 August 1664

Huygens, Constantijn

Huygens apologizes that although he is England he will not be able to see Cavendish because of his duties to the Court of France. He also thanks her for a gift of books that she has sent him in his absence at home.

9 / 19 Sept. 1671

Huygens, Constantijn

Huygens apologizes again that he has to leave England quickly wihout paying Cavendish his respects, and thanks her for all her previous favors to him.

 


Reprints of letters

Akkerman, Nadine, and Marguérite Corporaal. 2004. "Mad Science Beyond Flattery: The Correspondence of Margaret Cavendish and Constantijn Huygens." Early Modern Literary Studies Special Issue 14 (2.1-21).

Note: Includes careful text transcripts of manuscripts, including Huygens’s corrections. Link.


Akkerman, Nadine, and Marguérite Corporaal. 2009. "Mad science beyond flattery: the correspondence of Margaret Cavendish and Constantijn Huygens." In Margaret Cavendish, edited by Sara H. Mendelson, pp. 263-304. Farnham, England & Burlington, USA: Ashgate.

Note: Includes careful text transcripts of manuscripts, including Huygens’s corrections, as well as images of the manuscripts. See Appendix, pp. 272-302.

 

Worp, J. A., ed. 1916. De Briefwisseling van Constantijn Huygens, (1608-1687), Vols. V - 28. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff Rijks Geschiedkundige Publicatiën.

______, ed. 1917. De Briefwisseling van Constantijn Huygens, (1608-1687), Vol VI - 32. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff Rijks Geschiedkundige Publicatiën.

Vol. 5 / 28: pp. 186 -187, 285 -286, 287, 312, 313.

Vol. 6 / 32: pp. 88, 89, 293.



The Worp edition is available in two digital formats:

Hathi Trust: Vol. 5 only

Huygens Institute of Dutch History


Image of Constantijn Huygens forthcoming.

For image sources and permissions see our image gallery

 

 

 

5.2 Correspondence with Joseph Glanvill

Joseph Glanvill (1636–1680) was a Church of England clergyman and philosopher, who some scholars interpret as influenced by the ideas of Henry More. In his work The Vanity of Dogmatizing (1661), he discusses topics such as Aristotelianism and Descartes, the possibility of certain knowledge, and causation. The work was controversial, and Glanvill responded to criticisms in his work Scepsis Scientific (1664). He dedicated the work to the Royal Society, which promptly elected him as a member. Glanvill spent the rest of his life defending the work of the Society and the new experimental methods of natural philosophy it embodied. Glanvill also became famous for his publications on witches. His posthumously published work on witches, Saducismus Triumphatus (1681), to which Henry More added some materials, became one of the best known works on the existence of witches, both in England and on the Continent. This may seem surprising for a member of the Royal Society, but at the time, the topic of witches was relevant to discussions of immaterial substances, materialism and atheism. He was not alone in his interest in the supernatural, and corresponded on the topic with philosophers such as Henry More and Robert Boyle.

Although Glanvill did not know Cavendish personally, he was one of the few scholars who engaged with her in philosophical debate. Some scholars suggest that this is because he was seeking Cavendish’s patronage. In either case, he sent Cavendish a copy of his first work on witchcraft, A Philosophical Endeavour Towards the Defense of the Being of Witches and Apparitions (1666), which led to correspondence between the two.

There are seven extant letters from John Glanvill to Cavendish which remain from this correspondence, all published in A Collection of Letters and Poems Microform (1678), which Cavendish’s husband Sir William published after her death. For philosophical analysis and historical context of the correspondence see Jacqueline Broad’s article "Margaret Cavendish and Joseph Glanvill: Science, Religion, and Witchcraft.” (2007)


Spreadsheet overview of correspondence: Excel file

Modern transcript of the letters: PDF file

Image of Glanvill's work forthcoming.


Content overview

Letter

Date

Page

Content

1

December, no year

85

Asks Cavendish to accept a copy of his book on witchcraft.

2

Undated

98-100

Thanks Cavendish for a present, distinguishes between two kinds of knowledge, and discusses the knowledge one can gain from experiments.

3

13 October, no year

102-103

Discusses mechanism and vitalism, and asks Cavendish for a donation of books to the Bath library.

4

25 August, no year

104-105

Thanks Cavendish for her present of a history book that she wrote (presumably the Life of William); mentions another of his works on witches and plastic faculties; and discusses disputes and his work on the subject; and mentions that he has not read a book on experimental philosophy that Cavendish wrote to him about.

5

13 October 1667

123-127

Discusses the nature of plastic faculties; Platonist views on souls and bodies; soul-body interaction; mentions Scepsis Scientifica; discusses the possibility of a theory of nature, and the state of natural philosophy and natural history; mentions the Royal Society.

He also discusses at length his views on the pre-existence of the souls and answers Cavendish’s questions and objections on the subject. Mentions Hobbes and materialism, and Henry Moore.

6

22 April, no year

135-136

Pays Cavendish compliments and begs her to accept a gift of his work

7

8 July, no year

 

137-142

Responds to Cavendish’s arguments regarding witches; discusses the content regarding witches and sorcery in the Scripture and the Gospels.

Also discusses motion and mechanism; perfection of God; God’s relation to the created world; relationship between God and motion; mathematics and the works of nature.



References

Burns, William E. 2004. “Glanvill , Joseph (1636–1680).” In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Online Edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Link.

Broad, Jacqueline. 2007. "Margaret Cavendish and Joseph Glanvill: Science, Religion, and Witchcraft." Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 38 (3): 493-505.

Cavendish, William, Duke of Newcastle, ed. 1678. A Collection of Letters and Poems Microform / Written by Several Persons of Honour and Learning, upon Divers Important Subjects, to the late Duke and Dutchess of Newcastle. London: Printed by Langly Curtis in Goat Yard on Ludgate Hill.

 

For image sources and permissions see our image gallery

 

 

 

 

 

5.3 Scholarly contacts

This section includes information about other scholars with whom Cavendish had contact, but where the correspondence is either limited, or non-extant.

In 1678, William Cavendish published A Collection of Letters and Poems Microform. The collection includes letters to Margaret Cavendish from Constantijn Huygens and Joseph Glanvill, but also six additional letters from other natural philosophers. The three letters from Walter Charleton mostly contain praise of Cavendish and her philosophy. The other three letters, one each from Kenelm Digby, Thomas Hobbes, and Henry More, are short notes expressing thanks for Cavendish’s presents of her works. For a brief overview of the letters see the table at the end of this section.

A modern transcript of the letters is available for download below. Please note that the original source comes from the Early English Books Online database. The letters were subsequently edited: the spelling and some of the grammar was modernized to make the text more accessible and a pleasure to read.

PDF file


René Descartes

René Descartes by Frans Hals, c. 1649

Cavendish also appears to have met Descartes (1596-1650), but there is scholarly debate on whether she ever even held a conversation with him, on the account of her not understanding French. In the front matter of her Philosophical and Physical Opinions (1655), Cavendish includes An Epiloge to My Philosophical Opinions, in which she discusses her contact with Descartes. Below is the relevant excerpt. For a complete transcript see Section 5.4.

“Some say that my book of philosophy, it seems as if I had conversed with Descartes or Master Hobbes, or both, or have frequented their studies, by reading their works, but I cannot say but I have seen them both, but upon my conscience I never spoke to Monsieur Descartes in my life, nor ever understood what he said, for he spoke no English, and I understand no other language, and those times I saw him, which was twice at dinner with my Lord at Paris, he did appear to me a man of the fewest words I ever heard.”

 


William and Charles Cavendish

Margaret Cavendish’s husband William Cavendish (1593-1676) was a writer, playwright, poet, Royalist army officer, and an enthusiastic patron of the new mechanical and experimental natural philosophy. He was the key patron of Thomas Hobbes. His brother Charles Cavendish (1595?–1654) was a mathematician and also a patron of natural philosophers and mathematicians. Through her marriage to William, Margaret also gained access to the brothers’ extensive network. There is, however, scholarly debate on how much personal intellectual contact she was actually able to have with the philosophers the Cavendishes cultivated.

Margaret dedicated many of her works to her husband. Notably, her first three works were dedicated to her friend and brother-in-law: Poems and Fancies (1653), Philosophical Fancies (1653), and The World’s Olio (1655) published shortly after his death. Charles passed away in 1654, but William continued to support Margaret’s writing until her death: with a few exceptions, almost all her works after 1655 include either a laudatory poem or a letter of support from William. There is also extant correspondence between Margaret and William from their courtship in 1645, see Section 5. (Research on other extant correspondence is forthcoming.)

By the 1630s, the brothers were known to be at the vanguard of natural philosophy, and promoted experiments in optics and mechanics, and new research in mathematics. They had a wide network of contacts, including their tutor and protégé Thomas Hobbes, the philosopher Francis Bacon, and the French philosopher Marin Mersenne. Charles also knew the English mathematician and fellow of Royal Society, John Pell, and the French mathematician Gilles de Roberval. The brothers were also in touch with the now less well-known French scholars François Derand and Claude Mydorge.

During their exile in in France the brothers became key patrons of the “Newcastle” or “Cavendish” philosophical circle, which brought together English and French philosophers, such as Walter Charleton, René Descartes, Kenelm Digby, Thomas Hobbes, Pierre Gassendi and Marin Mersenne. Through these, the circle had access to an even wider network of scholars. Charles was personally acquainted with Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, who in turn corresponded with Descartes and commented on Digby’s views. Descartes would later tutor Queen Christina of Sweden. She and the Dutch scholar Anna Maria van Schurman were in turn in communication with Gassendi and Mersenne. The circle was thus indeed a circle.

Image of William Cavendish forthcoming.

 


Walter Charleton

Margaret Cavendish met Charleton through the Cavendish brothers, and the three extant letters indicate that they corresponded over an extended period of time (1654, 1663, 1667), both during Cavendish’s exile on the Continent and her later years in England. They also suggest that Charleton was an ardent admirer of her as a person, as well as of her works. The three letters are full of praise and indicate that he knew her works well. It is thanks to Charleton’s persistent lobbying that the Royal Society extended a formal invitation to Margaret to observe one of its sessions. (Mintz, 1952)

Walter Charleton (1620–1707) was a natural philosopher, physician, translator of J.B. Van Helmont, and key member of the “Cavendish” circle in Paris. Through his friendship with Kenelm Digby and acquaintance with Thomas Hobbes, he became a proponent of the new mechanical philosophy. He was instrumental in introducing Pierre Gassendi’s Epicurean natural philosophy to the English speaking audience, through his publication of the Physiologia Epicuro Gassendo Charltoniana (1654). He subsequently became known for a number of works on medical subjects such as human and animal anatomy, and the nature of the humans and animal soul. Some scholars suggest that he exerted important influence on later natural philosophers such as Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton.

Image of Walter Charleton forthcoming.

 


Kenelm Digby

Kenelm Digby by Sir Anthony van Dyck, c. 1640

There is one extant thank you letter from Digby to Margaret from 1657. Kenelm Digby (1603-1665) was a natural philosopher and courtier, with a long standing interest in experimental chymistry and biology. His reconversion in 1634 to Roman Catholicism led him to travel in Europe, where he met Marin Mersenne and Thomas Hobbes in 1635-6, with whom he staid in correspondence. Through Mersenne he was introduced to the works of Descartes, and engaged in a correspondence with him. Digby even travelled to meet Descartes in person in the Netherlands in 1640. In 1641, he finally fled to Paris into political exile, and became the Chancellor of Queen Henrietta Maria. At the time, Margaret Cavendish was her lady in waiting. During his exile in Paris, Digby was one of the key members of the Cavendish circle, and in 1644, he published two treatises on natural philosophy which made him one of the best known natural philosophers of the time: The Nature of Bodies and On the Immortality of Reasonable Souls, which discuss Aristotelianism, atomism and mechanical philosophy. In 1644 he also again met with Descartes. Digby returned to England in 1660, after the Restoration of the monarchy, became one of the founding members of the Royal Society. He continued to pursue his interests in chymistry and biology, corresponded with the great French mathematician Pierre de Fermat, and invented the modern wine bottle.

 


Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes by John Michael Wright, c. 1669-1670

There is one extant thank you letter from Hobbes to Margaret from 1661. In the front matter of her Philosophical and Physical Opinions (1655), Cavendish includes 'An Epiloge to My Philosophical Opinions', in which she discusses her contact with Hobbes. For a complete transcript see Section 5.4.


“And for Master Hobbes, it is true I have had the like good fortune to see him, and that very often with my Lord at dinner, for I conversing seldom with any strangers, had no other time to see those two famous philosophers; yet I never heard master Hobbes to my best remembrance treat, or discourse of philosophy, nor I never spoke to Master Hobbes twenty words in my life, I cannot say I did not ask him a question, for when I was in London I met him, and told him as truly I was very glad to see him, and asked him if he would please to do me that honour to stay at dinner, but he with great civility refused me, as having some business, which I suppose required his absence.”


Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) was a natural philosopher, mathematician, and is today best known for his materialist philosophical views and authorship of the political treatise The Leviathan (1651). He was a close companion of the Cavendish brothers. In 1608, he became William Cavendish’s tutor and took William on a tour of the Continent where they engaged with many scholars. Through Cavendish, Hobbes also became acquainted with the natural philosopher Francis Bacon and engaged in secretarial work for him. Later, he became William’s assistant and William his patron, and together they pursued interests in optics and mechanics, including an interest in microscopes and telescopes. Hobbes fled to Paris in 1641 for political reasons, and reconnected with the Cavendish brothers in 1645, when they also fled into political exile. It is as part of the Cavendish circle that Margaret had the opportunity to meet Hobbes and learn about his materialist ideas, though there is scholarly debate as to what extent she had any personal contact with him. Hobbes also became a mathematics tutor to the future Charles II from 1647-1648.

After the publication of the Leviathan in 1651 Hobbes fell out of favor with the French court in Paris and returned to England. While in England, he published De Corpore (1655) a work which spelled out his natural philosophy and contained a mathematical proof (unsuccessful as it turns out) of squaring the circle. The work provoked a bitter debate with the mathematician John Wallis. Hobbes also engaged in a famous debate with Robert Boyle on the validity of the experimental approach to natural philosophy and the existence of vacuum. He managed to estrange most of the leading natural philosophers of the day and was never, to his dismay, invited to join the Royal Society.

 


Henry More

Henry More by William Faithorne, 1675

There is one extant thank you letter from More to Margaret from 1663. (For an overview of Henry More, see Section 5.2 of Conway.) In 1665, Margaret sent More a present of her works including Poems and Fancies (1653) and Philosophical Letters (1664), which prompted the extant thank you letter. Scholars often interpret the Philosophical Letters as a pointed attack on the philosophy of Descartes, Hobbes, More and J.B. Van Helmont. More wrote regarding the present to Conway, in his letter from 15 May 1665 (Letter 156 in the Conway Letters, 1992, pg. 237). Some scholars also read the letter as More suggesting – perhaps in jest – that Conway reply to Cavendish and that he did not take Cavendish’s work seriously (Hutton, 2004). Either way, Conway, as far as we know, did not reply to the letter and the two women philosophers did not come into contact. See Section 6.3 for the relevant quote from the letter.


Overview of letter contents

Item

Author

Date

Page

Content

29

Digby

9 June 1657

65

Short thank you letter for a present of her works.

32

Hobbes

9 February 1661

67-68

Short thank you letter for a present of her works.

47

More

3rd May 1663

91-93

Short thank you letter for a present of her works.

48

Charleton

3 May 1663

91-93

Thanks Cavendish for present of her works. Panegyric on Cavendish’s talents.

59

Charleton

7th May 1667

108-119

Thanks Cavendish for present of her works. Panegyric on Cavendish’s talents. Mentions Galileo; Stoics – Zeno, Cleanthes, Chrysippus; commentary on her natural philosophy, morals and poetry.

Natural philosophy section: mentions skepticism regarding knowledge; Royal Society and its examinations of theories of nature; mentions Aristotle, Democritus, Epicurus, Descartes, Hobbes – calls their views “plausible conjectures at best”; Aristotle on the humane soul.  Does not wish to adjudicate between these and Cavendish’s philosophy.

Consoles Cavendish for the lack of reception of her philosophy at universities; comments on the entrenchment of Aristotelianism.

Morals section: comments on her different uses of genre to communicate her moral views.

Poetry section: comments positively on her poetry and her originality; compliments her on exceeding all women past and present, using examples from Roman times.

73

Charleton

1 January 1654

 

142-149

Thanks Cavendish for her present of The World’s Olio. Complimentary commentary on the work. Writs that Cavendish has benefited his reputation and his philosophical thought.

Also discusses her professed non-contact with scholars; comments on the view of others that she did have such contact; comments on her use of technical terms from the fields of theology, philosophy, medicine, mathematics, and astronomy.

Comments on the positive moral effects of her written works.



References

Carlyle, E.I. 2004-15. "Cavendish, Sir Charles (1595?–1654)." In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Online Edition), edited by David Cannadine. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Link.

Foster, Michael. 2009. "Digby, Sir Kenelm (1603–1665)." In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Online Edition Jan 2009), edited by David Cannadine. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Link.

Henry, John. 2010. "Charleton, Walter (1620–1707)." In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Online Edition Sept. 2010), edited by David Cannadine. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Link.

Hulse, Lynn. 2004-15. "Cavendish, William, First Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne (bap. 1593, d. 1676)." In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Online Edition Jan. 2011), edited by David Cannadine. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Link.

Hutton, Sarah, and Marjorie Hope Nicolson, eds. 1992. The Conway Letters: the Correspondence of Anne, Viscountess Conway, Henry More, and Their Friends, 1642-1684. Oxford: Clarendon.

______. 2004. Anne Conway: a Woman Philosopher. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

______. 2008. "More, Henry (1614–1687)." In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Online Edition Jan. 2008), edited by David Cannadine. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Link.

Malcolm, Noel. 2010. "Hobbes, Thomas (1588–1679)." In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Online Edition Sept. 2010), edited by David Cannadine. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Link.

Mintz, Samuel. 1952. "The Duchess of Newcastle's Visit to the Royal Society." The Journal of English and German Philology 51: 168-76.

 

For image sources and permissions see our image gallery

 

 

 

 

 

5.4 Front matter in Cavendish’s works

Much as today’s academic works contain forewords and acknowledgments, prefaces, introductions, and other kinds of front matter before the actual text, so did many scholarly works in the early modern era. Cavendish’s works were no exception and she made frequent use of various kinds of front matter pieces to communicate with her audience.

The front matter in her works includes numerous items such as dedicatory letters, laudatory poems by her husband, prefaces, letters to readers and friends, and most daringly, addresses to natural philosophers and universities. Cavendish did not have many scholarly interlocutors who were willing to engage with her in a public philosophical debate. Therefore one way to interpret the front matter of her works is as her way of corresponding with eminent scholars and philosophers. The recipients could not refuse Cavendish’s presents of her own works due to her high social rank, and were obliged to acknowledge receipt by means of appropriately polite thank you letters. Some of these can be found in William Cavendish’s A Collection of Letters and Poems Microform (1678).

Cavendish wrote a letter to ‘Naturall Philosophers’ in her Poems and Fancies (1653, 1664, 1668); a letter to ‘All Professors of Learning and Art’ in her Sociable Letters (1664); and a letter to ‘The Most Famous University of Cambridge’ in her Philosophical Letters (1664) and in her Observations Upon Experimental Philosophy & The Blazing World (1666, 1668).

 

Front matter to Philosophical and Physical Opinions

The front matter of the three printings of her Philosophical and Physical Opinions (PPO) went through revisions. The first publication in 1655 includes a letter to the ‘Two Universities’ of Oxford and Cambridge and a ‘Condemning Treatise of Atomes.’ It also contains a letter from William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle, defending the originality of Cavendish’s thought: ‘An Epistle to Justify the Lady Newcastle…’ The second publication in 1663 does not include these pieces, but instead includes ‘A Preface Concerning the Rules of Art, and Explaining the Nature of the Infinite, Together with Some Other Terms, for the Better Understanding of this Philosophical Work.’ The third publication, and second edition of PPO in 1668, renamed Grounds of Natural Philosophy, only contains the boldly titled letter ‘To All the Universities of Europe.’

 

Dedication to the Grounds of Natural Philosophy

A table overview of the front matter in each of Cavendish’s works and their editions is available below. Our team is currently working on a modern transcription of the front matter and research on its interpretation is forthcoming. As a taster, we include here the dedication from the Grounds of Natural Philosophy (1668). Please note that the original source comes from the Early English Books Online database. The dedication was subsequently edited: the spelling and some of the grammar was modernized to make the text more accessible and a pleasure to read.

TO ALL THE UNIVERSITIES IN EUROPE.

Most learned societies,
 
All books, without exception, being undoubtedly under your jurisdiction, it is very strange that some authors of good note, are not ashamed to repine at it; and the more forward they are in judging others, the less liberty they will allow to be judged themselves. But, if there was not a necessity, yet I would make it my choice, to submit, willingly, to your censures, these grounds of natural philosophy, in hopes that you will not condemn them, because they want art, if they be found fraught with sense and reason. You are the stars of the first magnitude, whose influence governs the world of learning; and it is my confidence, that you will be propitious to the birth of this beloved child of my brain, whom I take the boldness to recommend to your patronage; and as, if you vouchsafe to look on it favourably, I shall be extremely obliged to your goodness, for its everlasting life: so, if you resolve to frown upon it, I beg the favour, that it be not buried in the hard and rocky grave of your displeasure; but be suffered, by your gentle silence, to lie still in the soft and easy bed of oblivion, which is incomparably the less punishment of the two. It is so commonly the error of indulgent parents, to spoil their children out of fondness, that I may be forgiven for spoiling this, in never putting it to suck at the breast of some learned nurse, whom I might have got from among your students, to have assisted me; but would, obstinately, suckle it myself, and bring it up alone, without the help of any scholar: which having caused in the first edition, (which was published under the name of Philosophical and Physical Opinions) many imperfections; I have endeavoured in this second, by many alterations and additions, (which have forced me to give it another name) to correct them; whereby, I fear, my faults are rather changed and increased, than amended. If you expect fair proportions in the parts, and a beautiful symmetry in the whole, having never been taught at all, and having read but little; I acknowledge my self too illiterate to afford it, and too
impatient to labour much for method.
 
But, if you will be contented with pure wit, and the effects of mere contemplation; I hope, that somewhat of that kind may be found in this book, and in my other philosophical, poetical, and oratorical works: all which I leave, and this especially, to your kind protection, and am,

Your most humble servant, and admirer, Margaret Newcastle.

 

Editions and their front matter

Source

Year

Brief description of front matter

Poems and Fancies

1653

 

The Epistle Dedicatory: to Sir Charles Cavendish, my Noble Brother-in-Law. Letter. Signed M.N.

To all Noble, and Worthy Ladies. Letter. Signed M.N.

An Epistle to Mistris Toppe. Letter. Signed M.N.

Letter signed E. Toppe.

To Naturall Philosophers. Letter.

To the Reader. Letter.

The Poetresses Hasty Resolution. In verse.

The Poetresses Petition. In verse.

An Excuse for so much Writ upon my Verses. In verse.

Philosophical Fancies

1653

 

A Dedication to Fame. In verse.

An Epistle to Time. In verse.

A Request to Time. In verse.

An Epistle to my Braine. In verse.

An Epistle to a Troubled Fancy. In verse.

An Epistle to Contemplation. In verse.

An Epistle to Musefull Thoughts. In verse.

Answer to the Thoughts.

Reason, and the Thoughts.

To Sir Charles Cavendish, my Noble Brother-in-Law. Letter. Signed M.N.

To the Reader.

And a Table of contents.

The World's Olio

 

1655

A Dedication to Fortune. Letter. Signed Margaret Newcastle.

An Epistle that was Writ before the Death of the Noble Sir Charls Cavendish, my Most noble Brother-in-Law. Letter. Margaret Newcastle.

An Epistle to the Reader. Letter.

The Preface to the Reader. Letter.

To the Reader. Letter. Signed M.N.

To the Lady of Newcastle, upon her Book Intituled, the World's Olio.

Philosophical and Physical Opinions

 

1655

To the Lady Marqvesse of Newcastle, on her Book Intitled her Philosophicall, and Physicall Opinions. In verse. Signed W. Newcastle.

An Epistle to Justifie the Lady Newcastle, and Truth Against Falshood, Laying those False, and Malicious Aspersions of her, that she was not Authour of her Books. Letter. Signed W. Newcastle.

To the Reader. Letter.

To the Two Universities. Letter.

An Epiloge to my Philosophical Opinions. Letter.

An Epistle to my Honourable Readers. Letter.

An Epistle to the Reader, for my Book of Philosophy. Letter.

An Epistle to my Readers. Letter.

An Epistle to my Readers. Letter.

A Condemning Treatise of Atomes. Letter.

The Opinion, or Religion of the Old Philosophers. Letter.

The Text to my Natural Sermon. Letter.

Nature's Pictures

1656

 

The Dedication. In verse.

To the Lady Marchioness on her Book of Tales. In verse. Signed W. Newcastle.

A Copy of Verses to the Lady Marchioness of Newcastle. In verse. Signed W. Newcastle.

To the Reader. Letter.

An Epistle to my Readers. Letter. Signed M. Newcastle.

To the Reader. Letter. Signed M. Newcastle.

To the Reader. Letter. Signed M. Newcastle.

To the Reader. Letter. Signed M. Newcastle.

To My Readers. Letter.

To My Readers. Letter. Signed M. Newcastle.

Plays

1662

 

The Dedication.

The Epistle Dedicatory. Letter. Signed M.N.

To the Readers. Letter. Signed M.N.

To the Readers. Letter. Signed M.N.

To the Readers. Letter. Signed M.N.

To the Readers. Letter. Signed M.N.

To the Readers. Letter. Signed M.N.

To the Readers. Letter. Signed M.N.

To the Readers. Letter. Signed M.N.

To the Readers. Letter. Signed M.N.

To the Readers. Letter. Signed M.N.

Untitled postscript. Letter. Signed M.N.

To the Lady Marchioness of Newcastle upon her Playes. Verse. Signed W. Newcastle.

A General Prologue to all my Playes.

Back matter: To the Readers. A letter.

Orations of Divers Sorts

 

1662

To the Lady Marchioness of Newcastle on her Book of Orations. In verse. Signed W. Newcastle.

To His Excellencie the Lord Marquis of Newcastle. Letter. Signed M. Newcastle.

To the Readers of my Works. Letter. Signed M. Newcastle.

Orations of Divers Sorts, 2nd printing

1663

To the Lady Marchioness of Newcastle on her Book of Orations. In verse. Signed W. Newcastle.

To His Excellencie the Lord Marquis of Newcastle. Letter. Signed M. Newcastle.

To the Readers of my Works. Letters. Signed M. Newcastle.

Philosophical and Physical Opinions

2nd printing

 

1663

To the Lady Marchioness of Newcastle on her Book of Philosophy. In verse. Signed William Newcastle.

To His Excellence the Lord Marquis of Newcastle. Letter. Signed Margareta Newcastle.

Noble Readers. Letter.

To the Reader.

An Epistle to the Reader.

Another Epistle to the Reader.

A Preface Concerning the Rules of Art, and Explaining the Nature of Infinite, Together with Some Other Terms, for the Better Understanding of this Philosophical Work.

Sociable Letters

1664

 

To The Lady Marchioness Of Newcastle, On Her Book Of Epistles. In verse. Signed W. Newcastle.

To His Excellency the Lord Marquess of Newcastle. Letter. Signed M. Newcastle.

To All Professors of Learning and Art. Letter. Signed M.N.

The Preface. Letter.

Upon her Excellency the Authoress. Verse.

To the Censorious Reader. Verse.

Philosophical Letters

1664

 

To Her Excellency the Lady Marchioness of Newcastle, on her Book of Philosophical Letters. In verses. Signed W. Newcastle.

To His Excellency the Lord Marquis of Newcastle. Letter. Signed M.N.

To the Most Famous University of Cambridge. Letter. Signed M. Newcastle.

A preface to the reader. Signed M.N.

Poems and Fancies, 2nd ed.

1664

To the Lady Marchioness of Newcastle on her Book of Poems. In verse. Signed W. Newcastle.

The Epistle Dedicatory: to Sir Charles Cavendish, my Noble Brother-in-Law. Letter. Signed M.N.

To all Noble, and Worthy Ladies. Letter. Signed M.N.

An Epistle to Mistris Top. Letter. Signed M.N.

To her Excellence the Lady Marchioness of Newcastle. Letter. Signed E. Top.

To Natural Philosophers. Letter.

To the Reader. Letter.

The Poetresses Hasty Resolution. In verse.

The Poetresses Petition. In verse.

An Apology for Writing so Much on This Book. In verse.

The Blazing World

1666

 

To the Duchesse of Newcastle, on her New Blazing-World. In verse. Signed William Newcastle.

To the Reader.

Observations upon Experimental Philosophy & The Blazing World

 

1666

To Her Grace the Duchess of Newcastle on her Observations Upon Experimental Philosophy. In verse. Signed William Newcastle.

To His Grace the Duke of Newcastle. Letter. Signed M.N.

To the Most Famous University of Cambridg. Letter. Signed Devoted Servant.

The Preface to the Ensuing Treatise.

To the Reader.

An Argumental Discourse.

Also The Table of all the Principal Subjects Contained and Discourse of in this Book.

The Life of William

 

1667

To His Most Sacred Majesty Charles the Second. Letter. Signed Margaret Newcastle.

To His Grace the Duke of Newcastle. Letter. Signed M. Newcastle.

The Preface.

An Epistle to her Grace the Duchess of Newcastle. Letter. Signed John Rolleston (?).

The Blazing World, 2nd ed

1668

 

To the Duchesse of Newcastle, on her new Blazing-World. In verse. Signed William Newcastle.

To All Noble and Worthy Ladies. Letter. Signed M. Newcastle.

Grounds of Natural Philosophy

(3rd printing and 2nd edition of Philosophical and Physical Opinions)

1668

To All the Universities of Europe. Letter. Signed Margaret Newcastle.

Also a Table of Contents (13 parts) and an Appendix (5 parts).

Observations Upon Experimental Philosophy & the Blazing World, 2nd ed.

 

 

 

 

1668

To her Grace the Duchess of Newcastle on her Observations Upon Experimental Philosophy. In verse. Signed William Newcastle.

To his Grace the Duke of Newcastle. Letter. Signed M.N.

To the Most Famous University of Cambridg. Letter. Signed M.N.

The Preface to the Ensuing Treatise.

To the Reader.

An Argumental Discourse.

Also The Table of all the Principal Subjects Contained and Discourse of in this Book.

Orations of Divers Sorts, 2nd ed.

 

1668

To the Lady Marchioness of Newcastle on her Book of Orations. In verse. Signed W. Newcastle.

To His Excellencie the Lord Marquis of Newcastle. Letter. Signed M. Newcastle.

To the Readers of my Works. Letters. Signed M. Newcastle.

The Life of William, Latin edition by Walter Charleton

 

1668

Epigramma.

Aliud.

Augustissimo Regi, Carolo II. Britanniarum Monarchae Inclyto, Margareta Novi-castelli Ducissa, Felicitatem, Victorias, Triumphos. Letter.

D. Guilielmo Duci Novo-Castrensi. Letter. Signed Margareta N.C.

Prefato. Letter.

Plays, Never Before Printed

1668

To the Readers. Letter.

Poems and Fancies, 3rd ed.

1668

To her Grace the Duchess of Newcastle on her Book of Poems. In verse. Signed W. Newcastle.

The Epistle Dedicatory to Sir Charles Cavendish, my Noble Brother-in-Law. Letter. Signed M.N.

To all Noble, and Worthy Ladies. Letter. Signed M.N.

An Epistle to the Lady Toppe. Letter. Signed M.N.

To her Grace the Duchess of Newcastle. Letter. Signed E. Toppe.

To Natural Philosophers. Letter.

To the Reader. Letter.

The Poetresses Hasty Resolution. In verse.

The Poetresses Petition. In verse.

An Apology for Writing so Much on This Book. In verse.

Nature's Pictures, 2nd ed.

1671

The Duke of Newcastle upon All the Works of his Duchess. In verse.

Preface. Letter and poem. Signed Margaret Newcastle.

The World’s Olio, 2nd ed.

1671

A Dedication to Fortune. Letter.

To his Grace the Duke of Newcastle. Letter. Signed Margaret Newcastle.

An Epistle that was Writ before the Death of the Noble Sir Charls Cavendish, my Most noble Brother-in-Law. Letter. Margaret Newcastle.

Advertisement to the Reader. Letter.

The Preface. Letter.

The Duke of Newcastle upon his Duchess’s World’s Olio.

The Life of William (posthumous edition)

1675

To his Most Sacred Majesty Charles the II. Letter. Signed Margaret Newcastle.

To his Grace the Duke of Newcastle. Letter. Signed M. Newcastle.

The Preface.

An Epistle to her Grace the Duchess of Newcastle. Letter. Signed John Rolleston (?).

 

For image sources and permissions see our image gallery

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Connections

Thanks to her marriage to the influential William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle, and his brother Charles Cavendish, Margaret Cavendish had access to a wide network of scholars and natural philosophers in England, as well as on the Continent. The table below provides a brief description of her connections with these. Where possible, we have also tried to indicate how her connections were related to those of the other women philosophers.

The following sections also present quotes by well known male philosophers, which express their views of Cavendish.

Additional resources include:

 


The Digital Cavendish Project

The Project presents original research on Cavendish’s personal connections and works, including:

Network analysis by Shawn W. Moore, PhD candidate at Texas A&M University who is a curator of The Digital Cavendish Project.

Neatline Classroom map of Cavendish’s travels.

Network “map” of her relationships – below is a sample, but the Digital Cavendish Project allows for a dynamic and detailed exploration of the network nodes.

The Creative Commons license for the image below can be found here.


 



Six Degrees of Francis Bacon Project

The Project aims to map out early modern social networks. The network map provides a unified and systematized visual representation of the way people in early modern England were connected.



Connections overview

Scholar

Connection

 

Boyle, Robert

(1627-1691)

Natural philosopher and proponent of experimental and mechanical philosophy. Key founding member of the Royal Society. Cavendish watched him perform various experiments at the Royal Society on May 30th, 1667.

Cavendish, Charles

(1595?–1654)

Mathematician and patron of mathematicians, who had an extensive scholarly network in England and on the Continent. Cavendish’s friend and brother-in-law. Personal acquaintance of Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, who in turn corresponded with Descartes and commented on Digby’s views.

Cavendish, William

(1593 – 1676)

Cavendish’s husband, writer, poet, playwright, Royalist army officer, equestrian, and virtuoso. Student and long-term patron of Thomas Hobbes. Key leader of the Cavendish circle in Paris. Supported Margaret Cavendish in her publications throughout her lifetime.

Charleton, Walter

(1620–1707)

Physician, natural philosopher, translator of J.B. Van Helmont, and fellow of the Royal Society. Close friend of Kenelm Digby and acquaintance of Thomas Hobbes. He knew the Cavendish brothers well and had regular correspondence with Margaret Cavendish. Instrumental in obtaining an invitation for her to visit the Royal Society in 1667.

Descartes, René 

(1596-1650)

Philosopher known for his dualist views and critique of Aristotelianism. Cavendish met him in Paris through her husband’s circle. Descartes corresponded with Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, who knew Charles Cavendish. Descartes would later tutor Queen Christina of Sweden.

Digby, Kenelm

(1603 – 1665)

Natural philosopher, courtier, and one of the founding members of the Royal Society. He is known for his interest in experimental chymistry and biology. Cavendish knew him through her husband’s circle and corresponded with him.

Evelyn, John

(1620-1706)

Writer, diarist, botanist, and one of the founding members of the Royal Society. Cavendish corresponded with him.

Gassendi, Pierre

(1592-1655)

Natural philosopher, mathematician, astronomer and clergyman. He was part of the Cavendish circle in Paris. There is no evidence that Cavendish had any contact with him, but she is likely to have been exposed to his philosophy through others in the Circle. He was also in contact with Dutch scholar Anna Maria van Schurman and Queen Christina of Sweden.

Glanvill, Joseph

(1636–1680)

Church of England clergyman, philosopher and fellow of the Royal Society. He corresponded with Cavendish on philosophical topics such as the pre-existence of the souls and witches.

Hobbes, Thomas

(1588–1679)

Natural philosopher and mathematician, known for his materialist philosophical views and his attempt to ‘square the circle.’ Never a member of the Royal Society. Long-term close friend and tutor of the Cavendish brothers. Margaret Cavendish met him in Paris and corresponded with him.

Hooke, Robert

(1635–1703)

Natural philosopher, architect, curator of experiments for the Royal Society, pioneer of microscopy, and Robert Boyle’s assistant. There is no evidence that Cavendish was in contact with him, but she may have met him during her visit to the Royal Society in 1667. Her work Observations is often interpreted as a direct attack on his Micrographia.

Huygens, Constantijn

(1596 – 1687)

Dutch court diplomat, composer, writer, polyglot, and father of the scientist and mathematician Christiaan Huygens. He corresponded with Cavendish on the subject of Rupert’s Drops and assisted her in presenting her works to the University of Leiden.

Mersenne, Marin

(1588–1648)

Theologian, natural philosopher, mathematician and priest. He hosted regular meetings with philosophers in Paris and was influential in spreading Descartes’s works, including to the Cavendish circle. He was also in contact with Dutch scholar Anna Maria van Schurman and Queen Christina of Sweden. There is no evidence that Cavendish had any contact with him, but she is likely to have been exposed to his ideas through the Circle.

More, Henry

(1614–1687)

Philosopher, poet, theologian and a long-term close friend and mentor of Conway. He corresponded with Cavendish, but scholars interpret him as not taking her philosophical work seriously.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6.1 Quotes from Constantijn Huygens

The following quotes are from Huygens’s letters to Cavendish. The quotes are taken from the Worp edition, which modernizes the text transcript, making the English more accessible.

For a more accurate text transcript of the manuscripts, including Huygens’s corrections, see the Akkerman article. The Akkerman transcriptions are also available online here.

For images of the manuscripts themselves, digital copies of the Worp edition letters, and links to relevant secondary sources, see the Huygens Institute digital correspondence project.

 


5/15 September 1653, Huygens to Utricia Swann-Ogle, regarding Cavendish

"I am falled upon this lady by the late lecture of her wonderfull booke, whose extravagant atomes kept me from sleeping a great part of last night in this my little solitude…"

- Worp, Letter 5311, pg. 187; Akkerman, Letter 1, pg. 272.

 


12 March 1657, Huygens to Cavendish

“I had the honour to heare so good solutions given by your Excellencie upon divers questions mooved in a whole afternoone, she was pleased to bestowe upon my unworthie conversation, that I am turning to schoole with all speed, humbly beseeching your Excellency may bee so bountifull towards my ignorance, as to instruct me about the natural reason of these wonderfull glasses...”


“But, as I was bold to tell your Excellency, I should bee loth to believe, any female feare should reigne amongst so much over-masculine wisdom as the world doth admire in her. I pray God to blesse your Excellency with a dayly increase of it, and your worthie selfe to grannt that amongst those admirers I may strive to deserve by way of my humble service the honour to be accounted…”

- Worp, Letter 5334, pg. 284; Akkerman, Letter 2, pg. 276.

 


27 March 1657, Huygens to Cavendish

“I am the bolder in importunating her with these trifles, for as much I remember, your Excellency would declare unto me, that beeing to day of an opinion in matter of philosophie, she would not so be bound to it that tomorrow she might not make choice of a better. I leave all to her most ingenious perspicacitie…”

- Worp, Letter 5337, pg. 287; Akkerman, Letter 4, pg. 286.

 


9/19 September 1671, Huygens to Cavendish

"I could not forbeare to shew your Grace by these lines how verily mindfull I am of the many favours she hath been pleased to bestow upon me beyond sea in former times, even especially of those favours Madam which I remember did cost your Grace many a white petticoat a week. I make no question Madam, but the same noble veine is producing still some new rarities, and pray God it may continue to doe so many happy years to the glory of your name and satisfaction of the world …”

- Worp, Letter 6807, pg. 293; Akkerman, Letter 11, pg. 302.

 


Sources

Akkerman, Nadine, and Marguérite Corporaal. 2009. "Mad science beyond flattery: the correspondence of Margaret Cavendish and Constantijn Huygens." In Margaret Cavendish, edited by Sara H. Mendelson, pp. 263-304. Farnham, England & Burlington, USA: Ashgate.

Worp, J. A., ed. 1916. De briefwisseling van Constantijn Huygens, (1608-1687), Vols. V - 28. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff Rijks Geschiedkundige Publicatiën.

______, ed. 1917. De briefwisseling van Constantijn Huygens, (1608-1687), Vol VI - 32. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff Rijks Geschiedkundige Publicatiën.


Image of Huygens forthcoming.

For image sources and permissions see our image gallery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6.2 Quotes from Joseph Glanvill

The following quotes are from Glanvill’s letters to Cavendish.

Joseph Glanvill by William Faithorne, 1681

 

22 April 1667, pg. 98-99

"And though I must crave your pardon for dissenting from your Grace's opinion in some things, I admire the quickness, and vigor of your conceptions, in all: in which your Grace hath this peculiar among authors that they are, in the strictest sense, your own, your Grace being indebted to nothing for them, but your own happy wit, and genius; a thing so uncommon even among the most celebrated writers of our Sex, that it ought to be acknowledged with wonder in yours. And really, Madam, your Grace hath set us a patern, that we ought to admire, but cannot imitate. “



22 April, no year, pg. 135-136

“Ever since I had the happiness to see any of your Grace’s most ingenious writings, I have felt a mighty desire to speak my particular gratitude for those singular composures to all which the world is obliged … I am, Madam, an admirer of rarities, and your Grace is really so great an one, that I cannot but endeavour some testimony of a proportion'd respect and wonder…”

“For your Grace hath convinced the world, by a great instance, that women may be philosophers, and, to a degree fit for the ambitious emulation of the most improved masculine spirits.”


Source

Cavendish, William, Duke of Newcastle, ed. 1678. A Collection of Letters and Poems Microform / Written by Several Persons of Honour and Learning, upon Divers Important Subjects, to the late Duke and Dutchess of Newcastle. London: Printed by Langly Curtis in Goat Yard on Ludgate Hill.

 

For image sources and permissions see our image gallery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

6.3 Quotes from Henry More

The following quotes are from letters written by Henry More to Conway. In the first quote, he refers to Cavendish’s Philosophicall Letters: or Modest Reflections upon some Opinions in Natural Philosophy, Maintained by Several Famous and Learned Authours of this Age. … By the Thrice Noble, Illustrious, and Excellent Princess, the Lady Marchioness of Newcastle (1664). In the second quote, More refers to two folios, which Hutton (2004, pg. 114) identifies as Poems and Fancies (1653) and Philosophical Letters (1664). The letters are reprinted in Marjorie Nicolson’s edition of Conway’s letters (1930), and the revised edition of the same by Sarah Hutton (1992).

Henry More by William Faithorne, 1675

 

Letter 153, from Henry More to Lady Anne Conway, pg. 233-234

Early March, 1664–65

“But I am not fallen upon by one hand alone, I am spar'd by neither sexe. For I am also inform'd that the Marchionesse of Newcastle has in a large book confuted Mr Hobbs, Des Cartes, and myself, and (which will make your Ladiship at least smile at the conceit of it) Van Helmont also to boot.”

 


Letter 156, from Henry More to Lady Anne Conway, pg. 237

15 May 1665

“My Lady of Newcastle has sent two more Folios of hers to furnish my study, the one of poems, the other which is far the bigger, of letters wherein I am concern'd, above 30 of those letters being intended for a confutation of sundry passages in my writings. She is by farr a more civill Antagonist then Dr Beaumont, I wish your Ladiship were rid of your headache and paines, though it were no exchange for those of answering this great Philosopher. She is affrayd some man should quitt his breeches and putt on a petticoat to answer her in that disguize, which your Ladiship need not. She expresses this jealousie in her book, but I beleave she may be secure from any one giving her the trouble of a reply.”

 

Sources

Cavendish, Margaret. 1664. Philosophical Letters. London: Publisher unknown.

Hutton, Sarah. 2004. Anne Conway: a Woman Philosopher. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hutton, Sarah, and Marjorie Hope Nicolson, eds. 1992. The Conway Letters: the Correspondence of Anne, Viscountess Conway, Henry More, and Their Friends, 1642-1684. Oxford: Clarendon.

Nicolson, Marjorie Hope, ed. 1930. The Conway Letters: the Correspondence of Anne, Viscountess Conway, Henry More, and Their Friends. New Haven, Yale Univ. Press, 1930.

 

For image sources and permissions see our image gallery

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Online resources

Cavendish academic projects

The Digital Cavendish Project

Original research, digital images archive, and teaching resources. Original research includes networking mapping of Cavendish’s personal connections.

International Margaret Cavendish Society

Comprehensive website with newsletters and information on conferences, scholarly contacts, online resources, and a comprehensive bibliography organized according to topic.

 


Network analysis projects

The Digital Cavendish Project – Network

Visual network map of Cavendish’s social network.

Six Degrees of Francis Bacon

Digital reconstruction of the early modern social network by means of data-mining existing scholarship which describes relationships between early modern persons, documents, and institutions. Unified, systematized visual representation of the way people in early modern England were connected.



Primary sources online

Emory Women Writers Resource Project

Digital edition of the atomic poems included in the Poems and Fancies (1653). Includes a critical introduction to the work.

Philosophical Letters

Steward Duncan’s overview of the Philosophical Letters (1664), including a table of contents, primary sources, and a reproduction of some of the letters. Cross-listed at the Digital Cavendish Project.



Philosophy online

Early Modern Literary Studies Special Issue 14 (May, 2004)

Essays from the Fifth Biennial International Margaret Cavendish Conference. Edited by Lisa Hopkins, Emma Rees, and Gwen Williams.

The Legacy of Margaret Cavendish

Article from the journal Perspectives on Science 9.3 (2001), pp. 341-365, by Eric Lewis. Provides an overview of Cavendish’s work and recent scholarship.

Marcy Lascano's site

Introduction to Margaret Cavendish, or “Why you should include Margaret Cavendish in your early modern course and buy the book.” Cross listed on The Mod Squad, the group blog in modern philosophy.
 


Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy articles

Robert Boyle

Margaret Lucas Cavendish

René Descartes

René Descartes's Works

Pierre Gassendi

Thomas Hobbes

Henry More

 


Bibliographies

Digital Cavendish Project – Texts, Printers, Booksellers

Cameron Kroetsch’s comprehensive overview of Cavendish’s text editions, printers, and booksellers (1653-1675). You can download a PDF version of the document.

The Margaret Cavendish Bibliography Initiative

Comprehensive bibliography maintained by graduate students the department of English at Brigham Young University. The entries are organized by category and some works are listed in more than one. Categories include: Religion, Science, Philosophy, Aesthetics, Art, Painting, Theatre, Alchemy, Animals, Classical Sources, Gender, Hermeticism, History, Humor, Nature, Politics, Romance, Theory, Modern/Early Modern, and Genres.

Bibliography by James Fitzmaurice

Bibliography maintained by James Fitzmaurice at Northern Arizona University / University of Sheffield.

 


Images online

Digital Cavendish Project – Images Archive

Contains a limited, but growing collection of manuscript images.

National Portrait Gallery, London

The NPG makes available images of Cavendish’s engraved portraits, most of them based on drawings by Van Diepenbeeck. NPG also houses paintings and drawings of Cavendish’s husband William, the Duke of Newcastle, and other philosophers and scholars from her era.

 


Chronology & biographies

Digital Cavendish Project – Neatline Classroom

Chronological and spatial map of Cavendish’s travels.

Emory Women Writers Resource Project

Timeline of selected Western events in Cavendish’s lifetime, and chronology of military and political events from the same era.

History of Parliament Online

Contains detailed biographies of William and Charles Cavendish, and other male members of the Cavendish family who were politically active. Originally published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002.

Poetry Foundation

Brief biography of Cavendish, covering her life and works.