The Gentlewomans Companion, Or, a Guide to the Female Sex

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Prospect Books, 2001 - History - 269 pages
Aphra Behn is usually described as England's first professional woman writer, but her contemporary Hannah Woolley (Wooley or Wolley) ran her close, though recipes not bodice-rippers were her specialty (mixed with some judicious teaching, housekeeping and medical marketing). It seems amazing, therefore, that apart from a slight compendium, nothing of hers is available today - when women's studies have so strong a following. Her output is confusing and disputed, even the portrait in this second edition of her book is not of her but one Sarah Gilly, but all is made clearer by the long introduction by Caterina Albano, who has studied women's domestic literature for this period, and who urged us to produce this new, unabridged setting of the book (it is not a facsimile). The Companion is a conduct- as well as cookery-book (the recipes are mainly derived from her earlier works). It also contains an autobiography of the author. In truth it is a rank, but captivating, miscellany, including recipes, medical prescriptions, advice to servants and governesses, hints on upbringing, cosmetics and education, rules of social comportment and conduct, instructions and model letters for correspondence (mainly for young ladies), and 'Pleasant Discourses and Witty Dialogues' between gentlemen and ladies.

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This was not written by Hannah
"Hannah Wolley's fame led to a number of books that she did not write being attributed to her. The most infamous of these being the The Gentlewoman's Companion; or, a
Guide to the Female Sex, 1673 which contains the image of 'Wolley' given here and a brief biography of Wolley. Now, Wolley herself railed against this book, as a result no information given in it can be trusted. Because of this, all information about Hannah Woolley's life has to be derived from other sources.
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About the author (2001)

Hannah Woolley (1622-1675) was an English writer who published early books on household management. She married Jerome Woolley, a schoolmaster, in 1646, and ran a grammar schoool with him in Newport, Essex. Later she opened a school in Hackney. When she was widowed in 1661, Hannah Woolley began publishing books on household management in order to earn a living.

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