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KATHERINE PHILIPS

Katherine Philips (1631–1664).
Poems by the Most Deservedly Admired Mrs. Katherine Philips,
the Matchless Orinda
.
London: Henry Herringman, 1667.

Katherine Philips, the daughter of the London merchant John Fowler, gained admiration as one of the outstanding English poets of the seventeenth century and as a model of womanly virtue. Educated in several languages at a London boarding school, she was married at age sixteen to James Philips, a parliamentarian from Wales. After the birth of her second child, Philips founded the Society of Friendship, a circle of literary friends who exchanged plays, stories, and poems written under classical pseudonyms; Philips signed her works as “Orinda.” The Society of Friendship included the poet Anne Owen Lewis (1633–1692), the subject and dedicatee of several poems by Philips that reveal a strongly emotional but platonic attachment. Before she died of smallpox at the age of thirty-three, Philips had composed more than one hundred poems, undertook several translations of foreign poets, and rewrote two French plays by Pierre Corneille (1606–1684) in English. One of these, Pompey, was the first play by a woman to be performed on the English stage.