"Jane Anger her Protection for Women. To defend them against the scandalous reportes of a late Surfeiting Lover, and all other like Venerians that complaine so to bee overcloyed with womens kindnesse."
by Jane Anger, fl. 1589.
London: Printed by Richard Jones, and Thomas Orwin. 1589.
One of the first emails I received from Pat Cross, in September 1998, announced that she had created online editions of Jane Anger's "Protection for Women" and Bathsua Makin's "Essay to Revive the Antient Education of Gentlewomen" at her website, "Sunshine for Women". Over the next few years, I was happy to receive many emails from "Sunny". Sadly, her website is no longer online. I wasn't willing to see the books that Pat put online disappear, so I've created my own online editions of Makin and Anger's books, as well as listing replacements for other Sunshine titles.
Regarding Jane Anger:
All we know about Jane Anger as a person is that she was an educated English woman. Whether she wrote under her real name or a pseudonym is unknown. Only one original copy exists of "Protection for Women", a pamphlet published in London in 1589. Its full title is "Jane Anger her protection for women, to defend them against the scandalous reportes of a late surfeiting lover, and all other like venerians that complaine so to bee overcloyed with women's kindnesse." It was written as a direct response to Thomas Orwin's "Boke His Surfeit in Love, with a farwel to the folies of his own hantasie" (1588), which no longer exists anywhere, so far as is known.
Both books were part of an active debate about the nature of women, and more generally of people, involving academics and religious writers in late sixteenth century England. Jane Anger may be the first woman to publicly enter this "debate about women" or "querelle des femmes". Jane Anger writes on behalf of all women, promising that by sharing her knowledge of the nature and failings of men, she will help and protect others of her sex. She criticizes male domination of art and culture as self-centered and self-serving. She argues that men only see women as objects of sexual desire, and that once that desire is satisfied, men abandon women. Further, she argues that women fill a valuable role as providers of the necessities of life, and creators of the extras that make life comfortable, while men squander the fruits of women's labor.
"Protection", presenting its arguments from a woman's point of view, is a landmark text in the history of women's writing. It prepared the way for other women writers to enter the debate upon women's nature and take up the pen in women's defence.