And when I could no longer look,
I blest His grace that gave and took,
That laid my goods now in the dust.
Yea, so it was, and so 'twas just.
It was his own; it was not mine.
Far be it that I should repine.
The role of women is a Common subject found in Bradstreet's poems. Living in a Puritan society, Bradstreet did not approve of the stereotypical idea that women were inferior to men during the 1600s. Women were expected to spend all their time cooking, cleaning, taking care of their children, and attending to their husband's every need. In her poem "In Honour of that High and Mighty Princess Queen Elizabeth of Happy Memory," Bradstreet questions this belief.
Anne was born in Northampton, England, 1612, the daughter of Thomas Dudley, a steward of the Earl of Lincoln, and Dorothy Yorke. Due to her family's position, she grew up in cultured circumstances and was a well-educated woman for her time, being tutored in history, several languages, and literature. At the age of sixteen she married Simon Bradstreet. Both Anne's father and husband were later to serve as governors of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Anne and Simon, along with Anne's parents, emigrated to America aboard the Arbella as part of the Winthrop Fleet of Puritan emigrants in 1630. She first felt American soil on June 14, 1630 at what is now Pioneer Village (Salem, Massachusetts) with Simon, her parents, and other voyagers as part of the Puritan migration to New England (1620–1640). Due to the illness and starvation of Gov. John Endecott and other residents of the village, their stay was very brief. Most moved immediately south along the coast to Charlestown, Massachusetts for another short stay before moving south along the Charles River to found "the City on the Hill," Boston, Massachusetts.
The Bradstreet family soon moved again, this time to what is now Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1632, Anne had her first child, Samuel, in Newe Towne, as it was then called. Despite poor health, she had eight children and achieved a comfortable social standing. Having previously been afflicted with smallpox as a teenager in England, Anne would once again fall prey to illness as paralysis overtook her joints in later years. In the early 1640s, Simon once again pressed his wife, pregnant with her sixth child, to move for the sixth time, from Ipswich, Massachusetts to Andover Parish. North Andover is that original town founded in 1646 by the Stevens, Osgood, Johnson, Farnum, Barker, and Bradstreet families among others. Anne and her family resided in the Old Center of North Andover, Massachusetts . They never lived in what is now known as "Andover" to the south.
Both Anne's father and her husband were instrumental in the founding of Harvard in 1636. Two of her sons were graduates, Samuel (Class of 1653) and Simon (Class of 1660). In October 1997, the Harvard community dedicated a gate in memory of her as America's first published poet (see last paragraph below). The Bradstreet Gate is located next to Canaday Hall, the newest dormitory in Harvard Yard.
In 1647 Bradstreet's brother-in-law, Rev. John Woodbridge, sailed to England, carrying her manuscript of poetry. Although Anne later said that she did not know Woodbridge was going to publish her manuscript, in her self-deprecatory poem, ""The Author to Her Book"", she wrote Woodbridge a letter while he was in London, indicating her knowledge of the publication plan. Anne had little choice, however— as a woman poet, it was important for her to downplay her ambitions as an author. Otherwise, she would have faced criticism for being "unwomanly." Anne's first work was published in London as The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America "by a Gentlewoman of those Parts".
Bradstreet's first volume of poetry was The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America, published in 1650. It was met with a positive reception in both the Old World and the New World.
Anne Bradstreet's education gave her advantages that allowed her to write with authority about politics, history, Medicine, and theology. Her personal library of books was said to have numbered over 9000, although many were destroyed when her home burned down. This event itself inspired a poem titled "Upon the Burning of Our House July 10th, 1666". She rejects the anger and grief that this worldly tragedy has caused her and instead looks toward God and the assurance of heaven as consolation, saying:
Anne Bradstreet died on September 16, 1672 in North Andover, Massachusetts at the age of 60 of tuberculosis. The precise location of her grave is uncertain but many historians believe her body is in the Old Burying Ground at Academy Road and Osgood Street in North Andover. Four years after the death of Anne in 1672, Simon Bradstreet married for a second time to a lady also named Anne (Gardiner). In 1697 Simon died and was buried in Salem.
In 1678 her self-revised Several Poems Compiled with Great Variety of Wit and Learning was posthumously published in America, and included one of her most famous poems, "To My Dear and Loving Husband".
A marker in the North Andover cemetery commemorates the 350th anniversary (2000) of the publishing of The Tenth Muse in London in 1650. That site and the Bradstreet Gate at Harvard as well as the Bradstreet Kindergarten in North Andover may be the only places in America honoring her memory. As of 2015, the Bradstreet Kindergarten was torn down in North Andover.
Bradstreet is also known for using her poetry as a means to question her own Puritan beliefs; her doubt concerning God’s mercy and her struggles to continue to place her faith in him are exemplified in such poems as “Verses upon the Burning of our House” and “In Memory of My Dear Grandchild”. Her works demonstrate a conflict that many Puritans would not have felt comfortable discussing, let alone writing.