I may as well admit it: I long to ﬁnd more early modern prose ﬁction that was written by women. I long for more texts written by women, examples of prose ﬁction that may be used to help us reconstruct the lives, preoccupations, and narrative sensibilities of early modern English women, but I know that there just aren’t that many such early modern texts to be found (see, e.g., Newcomb 2002; Hackett 2000). Consequently, I have also developed an interest in examples of prose ﬁction which ventriloquize female voices: texts like Nicholas Breton’s The Miseries of Mavillia (1597) which is told through the voice of a ﬁrst-person, female narrator, who helps articulate the role narrative can play in helping to explain early modern female subjectivity and experience. As she begins her work, the narrator mulls over the value of the tale she is about to tell:
But why shall I tell this tale? who takes pleasure in a Tragedie? Why? myrth is in many places, and sorrow is no where welcome. Then let me holde my peace: alas I cannot. And why? I haue sworne to my selfe, the world shall see my miserie: but what am I the better? Oh yes, should I sit still and weepe? . . . . they say, that the eye sees not, the heart rues not. Oh thought is the torment of torments: and can I chuse but see my selfe? and by sight of my selfe, to bring in memorie the sorrowes that I neuer put out of my mind. What need I then to record, that I cannot but remember? I must keepe mine oath, how shall the world wonder at me? some mindes pittie me, and other bee warned by me, and all mindes erne when they thinke vpon mee, if I say nothing.