Her Work

Mary Sidney’s Literary Works

All of Mary Sidney’s works are available in The Collected Works of Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, 2 vols., ed. Margaret P. Hannay, Noel J. Kinnamon, and Michael Brennan, (Oxford: Clarendon, 1998). Unfortunately, Vol. 1 costs $200 and Vol. 2 costs $240.

Collected Works of Mary Sidney, Vol. 1 Poems, Translations, and Correspondence

Collected Works of Mary Sidney, Vol. 2: The Psalmes of David

Fortunately, you can find much of her work online at Luminarium.org

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Below is a list of Mary’s Sidney’s known work. Please click here to read the first three paragraphs of her translation of A Discourse of Life and Death.

A Discourse of Life and Death, translated from the French original of Philippe de Mornay. Published as A Discourse of Life and Death, Written in French by Philip Mornay; Antonius: A Tragedie Written Also in French by Robert Garnier. Both done in English by the Countesse of Pembroke. London: printed by J. Windet for William Ponsonby, 1592.

Antonius, translated from Garnier’s French version.
The Tragedie of Antonie. Done into English by the Countesse of Pembroke. London: printed by P. (Short for William Ponsonby), 1595. (First published with A Discourse in 1592, separately in 1595.) This is the first play in English written and published by a woman.

Antonius. 1595 ed. (Tragedie of Antonie)

“The Doleful Lay”
Printed in Edmund Spenser’s Astrophel. A Pastoral Elegy Upon the Death of the Most Noble and Valorous Knight, Sir Philip Sidney, and attributed by Spenser to Mary Sidney. London: printed by T. Creede for William Ponsonby, 1595.

“A Dialogue between two shepherds, Thenot and Piers, in praise of Astrea”
Printed in A Poetical Rhapsody Containing, Diverse Sonnets, Odes, Elegies, Madrigals, and other Poesies, both in Rhyme and Measured Verse, ed. Francis Davison. London: printed by V. Simmes for J. Baily, 1602. Reprinted 1608, 1611, 1621. This is the first original pastoral poetry in English written and published by a woman.

The Psalmes of David (1590s). Manuscript only during her lifetime; not published until 1823. In her collection of 127 poems, she used 126 different verse forms.

“Even now that Care” and “To the Angel spirit of the most excellent Sir Phillip Sidney” (1590s).
“To the Angel Spirit,” an early version by the countess found with Samuel Daniel’s papers and erroneously included in The Whole Works of Samuel Daniel Esquire in Poetry. London: printed by N. Okes for Simon Waterson, 1623.

The Triumph of Death (1590s, transcribed 1600), translated from the Petrarch’s Italian. Mary was the first (and only for hundreds of years) translator to maintain the difficult terza rima form in which Petrarch originally wrote this lengthy poem.

Correspondence. Some of her letters are included in a contemporary volume of epistolary prose.