Ephelia - Life Stories, Books, and Links
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Lady Mary Villiers
Lady Mary Villiers (source)
Related authors:
Aphra Behn, Virginia Woolf
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11/23/1678     "Ephelia," the Restoration, Women    read it now!
On this day in 1678, "Ephelia" had her first public writing licensed by the King's censor, thereby marking her official entry into the world of Restoration literature. The writing in question is Ephelia's poem on the Popish Plot that was rocking the Court and all of England, but more interesting than poem or Plot is Ephelia herself -- especially now that we know who she was.
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An Encyclopedia of British Women Writers
by June Schlueter, Paul Schlueter
reference, bibliography
Ephelia (details)
by Maureen E. Mulvihill (editor)
poetry, textual notes, intro., portraits
Reading Early Modern Women: An Anthology of Texts in Manuscript and Print, 1550-1700
by Helen Ostovich and Elizabeth Sauer
essays, literary criticism
Review of Ephelia, Seventeenth-Century News (Spring-Summer, 2004), pp 119-123
by Philip Milito (NYPL Berg Collection, NYC)
criticism and analysis
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"Butterfly in My Net: Lepidoptera, Literature, and the 'Ephelia' Poet"
Find an article titled "Shall the Duchess of Richmond Have A Butterfly Patronym?" by Dr John B. Heppner (Antenna 25, No 1, Jan 2001), Director, Association of Tropical Lepidoptera, and Fellow, Royal Entomological Society. Also features an image of the new "Ephelia" butterfly, "Ephelia's Orange Tip," an English butterfly, and portrait of Villiers by Van Dyck.

"According to my published researches, Mary Villiers produced a body of writings -- poems, songs, and a pre-empted satiric play on Charles II and his brother, James, Duke of York -- under the pseudonym "Ephelia." She ingeniously created the legend of "Ephelia" by devising an (heretofore) intractable case in the history of concealed authorship, one dense enough to elude the most skilled literary detective. Unable to draw back "Ephelia"'s veil, most scholars unfairly judged the poet to be either a man or a thoroughly invented poet -- a sporting hoax -- created by a cabal of 17th-century writers."
A Royal Van Dyck: Lady Mary Villiers
This website, presented by the Historical Portraits Gallery, Mayfair, London, identifies Lady Mary as "very probably" the anonymous poetess Ephelia. Includes a short biography.

"As Duchess of Richmond, and later as the wife of Colonel Howard, Lady Mary was a prominent figure at Court after the Restoration. Several poems by the anonymous Stuart poetess known as Ephelia (whose works were published in 1679 as 'Female Poems... by Ephelia') were dedicated to her, and in the last decade this corpus has been attributed by Maureen E. Mulvihill of the Princeton Research Forum to Lady Mary herself. This argument would suggest that Lady Mary Villiers was the most highly-placed publishing woman writer of the Stuart period."
Ephelia at The Orlando Project
For a detailed summary of the 'Ephelia' project, with commentary on Mulvihill's Villiers attribution (Women's Writing, vol 2, no 3, 1995-), see a major new online resource in feminist scholarship: The Orlando Project: A History of Women's Writing from the Beginnings to the Present, compiled by Susan Brown, Patricia Clements, Isobel Grundy (see Team link, on the site homepage, url below), Cambridge UP, 2006; with regular updates. (Note that this is a subscription database; you or your institution must be subscribers, with login data, to enter the database. However, all viewers can access the homepage (url below), and for a preview, click on the homepage link Email contact:
Thumbprints of 'Ephelia': The End of an Enigma in Restoration Attribution
Dr. Maureen E. Mulvihill presents this multimedia archive concerning the "Ephelia" enigma, in which she identifies Mary, Dutchess of Richmond and Lennox as the elusive poetesse.

"My present case for Ephelia's identity, built on factual and circumstantial evidence, offers students of seventeenth-century literature a new candidate for Ephelia's authorship, while also recovering a relatively little known duchess of the Stuart court: the fascinating Mary Villiers. My work restores her to the scholarship on Stuart court culture and Stuart women writers, whereas heretofore she was only known as one of Van Dyck's favorite English subjects."
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February 19, 2018
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