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A beautifully decorated historical text

Dr Elizabeth L’Estrange, Lecturer, and Head of the Department of Art History, Curating, and Visual Studies has recently received two publication subventions for her forthcoming monograph.

Anne de Graville and Early Modern Book Culture in France is the first in-depth study of a woman writer and bibliophile who was active in the first decades of the sixteenth century. Although Anne de Graville was well-known in her day, writing two works for the queen, Claude of France, and her mother-in-law, Louise of Savoy, she has received little attention from modern scholars. Elizabeth’s book reconstructs Anne’s library from archival and manuscript sources, and shows how her collection often acted as an inspiration for the literary projects that Anne undertook.

Her two surviving works – the Beau roman, a rewriting of Boccaccio’s Teseida (via a French mise-en-prose) and the Rondeaux, a reworking of Alain Chartier’s poem, La Belle dame sans mercy – suggest that she was developing the legacy of Christine de Pizan who, early in the fifteenth century, had sought to defend women from misogynist attacks by male writers. By writing new versions of these male-authored works, by employing new poetic forms, and nuancing the arguments of the female characters, Anne celebrated and promoted not only the role of women in society but also an image of equality and harmony between the sexes. Aimed at the two most powerful women in France, these works, as well as Anne’s rich collection, demonstrate her important position within French courtly and literary culture.

The book has received the Weiss-Brown Subvention from the Newberry Library in Chicago, worth £1050, and an award of £500 from the Scouloudi Foundation (Institute for Historical Research, London) to enable the publication of multiple images and colour plates.

Anne de Graville and Early Modern Book Culture in France will be published in early 2021 by Boydell and Brewer.