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Why Mary Wouldn't Marry? Exploiting the Limits of Patriarchal Authority, Daphna Oren-Magidor (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

January 23, 2018, 5:15pm BST - 6:45pm
Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies, Queen Mary, University of London

Bancroft Building, room 3.40
Mile End Road
London E1 4NS
United Kingdom

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Mary Evelyn (1648-1723) refused to wed. She announced this decision to her father, Member of Parliament George Evelyn, at the age of 18. It was an unusual decision for an early modern gentlewoman, but George’s numerous letters to Mary reveal that she remained true to it for almost two decades. Despite numerous respectable offers and intense familial pressure, Mary remained resolutely single until, at the age of 44, she surprised everyone by marrying Sir Cyril Wyche. Marriage choice was the field in which paternal authority was negotiated in this period. Evelyn’s case reveals how young women could exploit the limits of this authority, while still operating under the constraints of a patriarchal society.

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