Elizabeth Tanfield Cary (1585-1639) was born into the Tanfield family at Burford Priory in Oxfordshire. Brought up strictly, she learnt Latin and Hebrew and modern languages. Forbidden further learning, she turned to the servants and ran up a large bill paying them to smuggle her candles for secret reading. She was married at 15 to Henry Cary, Lord Falkland and bore him 11 children, though she went through deep depression during the pregnancies. She brought up her children with a strong reverence for their father, to whom she also strove to be obedient, subordinating her own wishes and beliefs to his. However in 1626, unable to deny her convictions further, she converted to Catholicism, remaining unwavering despite Cary’s removal of the children from her, his bitter recriminations and financial pressure. Through these hardships she continued to write as she had throughout her marriage, producing many translations of Catholic works. She was gradually reunited with her seven surviving children, following Henry’s death. Two of her sons became priests, four daughters became nuns and one, Anne, wrote her mother’s biography. Cary is also supposed to have written a verse tragedy of Tamberlaine now lost, but in 1627 did write The History of Edward II, formerly ascribed to Henry Cary, a chronicle with dramatic sections, notable for its sympathetic presentation of Queen Isabel, who was neglected by her husband for his homosexual lover Gaveston.
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