Mary Sidney Herbert

Mary Sidney Herbert

b. 1561 d. 1621


Oh, what a lantern, what a lamp of light - Mary Sidney Herbert, O


About Mary Sidney Herbert

Mary Sidney Herbert was an influential and talented poet, translator and patron of the arts in Elizabethan England. She was also the sister of the courtier and poet Philip Sidney. She completed the translations of the Psalms into English which he had begun but had been unable to finish before his early death. Mary Sidney Herbert wrote over a hundred Psalm translations, using a remarkable range of verse forms. (A meditation upon psalms was seen as an acceptable form of writing for women in the Elizabethan period.)

Mary Sidney Herbert celebrated her brother’s life and accomplishments in her verse and acted as a patron to other writers, such as Edmund Spenser, who paid tribute to her brother. She was a highly educated woman, studying not simply scripture and rhetoric but French, Italian and Latin. Even in her own lifetime, she was celebrated as an accomplished poet by male contemporaries.