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Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Poets
ISBN: 9781681371580
Pages: 144
Publication Date: April 16, 2019

Margaret Cavendish

by Margaret Cavendish, edited and with an introduction by Michael Robbins

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Margaret Cavendish, the Duchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, was a groundbreaking writer—a utopian visionary, a scientist, a science-fiction pioneer. She moved in philosophical circles that included Thomas Hobbes and René Descartes, and she produced startlingly modern poems unlike anything published in the seventeenth century or since, at once scientific and visionary, full of feminist passion and deep sympathy with the nonhuman world. In recent years, Cavendish has found many new admirers, and this selection of her verse by Michael Robbins is an ideal introduction to her singular poetic world.


Virginia Woolf famously described Margaret Cavendish as a cucumber choking the roses. To my mind, Cavendish is the whole garden, prickly and wild and fresh. With no formal education, her fierce and elemental imagination tuned itself to atoms and rabbits, trees and invisible worlds—it vibrates across these pages.
—Danielle Dutton, author of Margaret the First: A Novel

Margaret Cavendish clearly established herself as an alternative voice of sceptical wit and humane enquiry, unique among seventeenth-century women, and prophesying many others. There is something magnificent about her irrepressible eccentricity. In her own fashion she survived a social revolution, and bore witness to a scientific one.
—Richard Holmes