Anne Bradstreet (1612–72) was the first writer in England’s North American colonies to be published. A Puritan poet, her work still resonates with readers today.
This year marks the 350th anniversary of her death.
Anne was born in Northampton, England, on March 20, 1612, to Puritan parents — Thomas Dudley, a steward of the Earl of Lincoln, and Dorothy Yorke. Receiving a superior education for her time, she was tutored in history, literature and several languages.
When Anne was 16 she married Simon Bradstreet. They, along with her parents, emigrated to New England in 1630 during the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Her husband and father later served as governors of the colony.
Finding a home
After arriving in what is now Salem, Massachusetts, the Bradstreet family moved around several times until finally settling in North Andover.
Despite poor health, she had eight children in 10 years, all of whom lived to adulthood. In addition to her various other duties, Anne wrote poetry.
Her first collection and the only one published during her lifetime was “The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America.” Published in 1650 in London, it was popular both in America and Britain.
Most of her poems centered around family, nature, faith in God and eternity.
Two of her popular poems were published after her death: “To My Dear and Loving Husband” and “Upon the Burning of Our House, July 10th, 1666.”
Anne had deep love for her husband and wrote in the poem: “If ever two were one, then surely we/ If ever man were loved by wife, then thee.” The last line speaks of eternity: “That when we live no more, we may live ever.”
True hope, treasure
Her personal library contained more than 800 books. When her home burned she wrote, “Upon the Burning of Our House.” She lost many earthly items but kept her faith: “And when I could no longer look/ I blest His grace that gave and took/ The world no longer let me love/ My hope, and treasure lies above.”
Bradstreet contracted tuberculosis toward the end of her life, and died Sept. 16, 1672, in North Andover. Although the precise location of her grave is uncertain, many historians believe she is buried in the Old Burying Ground in North Andover.
The Bradstreet Gate at Harvard and the Anne Bradstreet Early Childhood Center in North Andover are named for the first poet in America.