The case of Mistress Mary Hampson

Her Story of Marital Abuse and Defiance in Seventeenth-Century England

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Abstract

The centerpiece of The Case of Mistress Mary Hampson is the autobiographical narrative of a 17th-century woman in an abusive and violent marriage. Composed at a time when marital disharmony was in vogue with readers and publishers, it stands out from comparable works, usually single broadsheets. In her own words, Mary recounts various dramatic and stressful episodes from her decades-long marriage to Robert Hampson and her strategies for dealing with it. The harrowing tale contains scenes of physical abuse, mob violence, abandonment, flight, and destitution. It also shows moments of personal courage and interventions on the author's behalf by friends and strangers, some of whom are subject to severe reprisals. Mary wrote her story to come to terms with her situation, to justify her actions, and to cast herself in a virtuous light. The accompanying discussion of her life, drawn from other sources, provides chilling evidence of the vulnerability of seventeenth-century women and the flawed legal mechanisms that were supposed to protect them. Readers are also invited to consider in what ways the self-portrait is accurate and what elements of it may be considered fabrication. Malay's archival efforts have thus rescued a compelling and complicated voice from the past.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationStanford
PublisherStanford University Press
Number of pages176
ISBN (Electronic)9780804790604
ISBN (Print)9780804786287, 9780804790550
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jan 2014

Fingerprint

Abuse
Defiance
England
Mistress
Marriage
Reader
Centerpiece
Flight
Fabrication
Physical
Reprisals
Abandonment
Vulnerability
Courage
Self-portrait
Broadsheet
Stranger

Cite this

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title = "The case of Mistress Mary Hampson: Her Story of Marital Abuse and Defiance in Seventeenth-Century England",
abstract = "The centerpiece of The Case of Mistress Mary Hampson is the autobiographical narrative of a 17th-century woman in an abusive and violent marriage. Composed at a time when marital disharmony was in vogue with readers and publishers, it stands out from comparable works, usually single broadsheets. In her own words, Mary recounts various dramatic and stressful episodes from her decades-long marriage to Robert Hampson and her strategies for dealing with it. The harrowing tale contains scenes of physical abuse, mob violence, abandonment, flight, and destitution. It also shows moments of personal courage and interventions on the author's behalf by friends and strangers, some of whom are subject to severe reprisals. Mary wrote her story to come to terms with her situation, to justify her actions, and to cast herself in a virtuous light. The accompanying discussion of her life, drawn from other sources, provides chilling evidence of the vulnerability of seventeenth-century women and the flawed legal mechanisms that were supposed to protect them. Readers are also invited to consider in what ways the self-portrait is accurate and what elements of it may be considered fabrication. Malay's archival efforts have thus rescued a compelling and complicated voice from the past.",
keywords = "Marital abuse, Early Modern History 1500-1750, Women’s history",
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The case of Mistress Mary Hampson : Her Story of Marital Abuse and Defiance in Seventeenth-Century England. / Malay, Jessica.

Stanford : Stanford University Press, 2014. 176 p.

Research output: Book/ReportBook

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AB - The centerpiece of The Case of Mistress Mary Hampson is the autobiographical narrative of a 17th-century woman in an abusive and violent marriage. Composed at a time when marital disharmony was in vogue with readers and publishers, it stands out from comparable works, usually single broadsheets. In her own words, Mary recounts various dramatic and stressful episodes from her decades-long marriage to Robert Hampson and her strategies for dealing with it. The harrowing tale contains scenes of physical abuse, mob violence, abandonment, flight, and destitution. It also shows moments of personal courage and interventions on the author's behalf by friends and strangers, some of whom are subject to severe reprisals. Mary wrote her story to come to terms with her situation, to justify her actions, and to cast herself in a virtuous light. The accompanying discussion of her life, drawn from other sources, provides chilling evidence of the vulnerability of seventeenth-century women and the flawed legal mechanisms that were supposed to protect them. Readers are also invited to consider in what ways the self-portrait is accurate and what elements of it may be considered fabrication. Malay's archival efforts have thus rescued a compelling and complicated voice from the past.

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