Most available seventeenth-century women's writing originates from elite levels of society, but Cicely Johnson was from the 'middling sort', while Rose Thurgood was poor to the point of starvation. Both women were Puritans, and both were also connected with two infamous heretical prophets. Yet despite their similarities, the social differences between them are signalled throughout their accounts. A Lecture of Repentance (1636-7) and 'Fanatical Reveries' (c. 1636-7) are two of the earliest known English conversion narratives. Remarkably, both accounts were written by women. The introduction to the texts outlines the historical and cultural background of the women and their works, including a discussion of the relationship between the authors' social positions and the identities that they construct in their narratives. As well as making these striking accounts available in print for the first time, this edition also demonstrates some of the ways in which such life writings can inform our understanding of wider issues of class, gender, religion and identity in early modern England.
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