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Convent AutobiographyEarly Modern English Nuns in Exile$
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Victoria Van Hyning

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266571

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266571.001.0001

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The Morean Legacy at St Monica’s

The Morean Legacy at St Monica’s

(p.129) 3 The Morean Legacy at St Monica’s
Convent Autobiography

Victoria Van Hyning

British Academy

This chapter investigates the importance of women’s education and Latinity to the first chronicler of St Monica’s, who composed anonymously, but whom I have identified as Mary Copley, a descendant of Sir Thomas More. Copley was well-educated, and descended from a long line of well-educated men and women whose learning, she believed, was critical to the survival and flourishing of English Catholicism after the Reformation. Copley’s attention to More’s legacy at St Monica’s is more sustained than would have been possible had she written under her own name. Writing anonymously, she subsumes her concerns into the stories and voices of the other women and their family members who are represented in this significant early modern chronicle. Copley’s is the first of four detailed case studies of what I call ‘subsumed autobiography’: when an anonymous author, through the very vehicle of her anonymity, shapes a text around her own experiences, politics, theology or ideology to such a degree that the work can be read as an expression and exploration of the author’s selfhood. The case of Copley’s authorship rests on combined analyses of prosopographical, manuscript, and textual data, and provides a methodology for identifying anonymous authors.

Keywords:   More, Latinity, education, subsumed autobiography, legacy, chronicle, anonymity

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