Anne was born in Northampton, England, 1612, the daughter of Thomas Dudley, a steward of the Earl of Lincoln, and Dorothy Yorke. Due to her family's position, she grew up in cultured circumstances and was a well-educated woman for her time, being tutored in history, several languages and literature. At the age of sixteen she married Simon Bradstreet. Both Anne's father and husband were later to serve as governors of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Anne and Simon, along with Anne's parents, emigrated to America aboard the Arbella as part of the Winthrop Fleet of Puritan emigrants in 1630. She first touched American soil on June 14, 1630 at what is now Pioneer Village (Salem, Massachusetts) with Simon, her parents and other voyagers as part of the Puritan migration to New England (1620–1640). Due to the illness and starvation of Gov. John Endecott and other residents of the village, their stay was very brief. Most moved immediately south along the coast to Charlestown, Massachusetts for another short stay before moving south along the Charles River to found "the City on the Hill," Boston, Massachusetts.
The Bradstreet family soon moved again, this time to what is now Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1632, Anne had her first child, Samuel, in Newe Towne, as it was then called. Despite poor health, she had eight children and achieved a comfortable social standing. Having previously been afflicted with smallpox as a teenager in England, Anne would once again fall prey to illness as paralysis overtook her joints in later years. In the early 1640s, Simon once again pressed his wife, pregnant with her sixth child, to move for the sixth time, from Ipswich, Massachusetts to Andover Parish. North Andover is that original town founded in 1646 by the Stevens, Osgood, Johnson, Farnum, Barker and Bradstreet families among others. Anne and her family resided in the Old Center of North Andover, Massachusetts . They never lived in what is now known as "Andover" to the south.
Both Anne's father and her husband were instrumental in the founding of Harvard in 1636. Two of her sons were graduates, Samuel (Class of 1653) and Simon (Class of 1660). In October 1997, the Harvard community dedicated a gate in memory of her as America's first published poet (see last paragraph below). The Bradstreet Gate is located next to Canaday Hall, the newest dormitory in Harvard Yard.
In 1650, Rev. John Woodbridge had The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America composed by "A Gentlewoman from Those Parts"  published in London, making Anne the first female poet ever published in both England and the New World. On July 10, 1666, their North Andover family home burned (see "Works" below) in a fire that left the Bradstreets homeless and with few personal belongings. By then, Anne's health was slowly failing. She suffered from tuberculosis and had to deal with the loss of cherished relatives. But her will remained strong and as a reflection of her religious devotion and knowledge of Biblical scriptures, she found peace in the firm belief that her daughter-in-law Mercy and her grandchildren were in heaven.
Anne Bradstreet died on September 16, 1672 in North Andover, Massachusetts at the age of 60. The precise location of her grave is uncertain but many historians believe her body is in the Old Burying Ground at Academy Road and Osgood Street in North Andover. Four years after the death of Anne in 1672, Simon Bradstreet married for a second time to a lady also named Anne (Gardiner). In 1697 Simon died and was buried in Salem.
This area of the Merrimack Valley is today described as "The Valley of the Poets."
A marker in the North Andover cemetery commemorates the 350th anniversary (2000) of the publishing of "The Tenth Muse" in London in 1650. That site and the Bradstreet Gate at Harvard as well as the Bradstreet Kindergarten in North Andover may be the only places in America honoring her memory.
Descendants of Simon Bradstreet and Anne, daughter of Thomas Dudley and Dorothy Yorke Dudley:
- Herbert Hoover
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
- William Ellery Channing
- Richard Henry Dana, Sr.
- Richard Henry Dana, Jr.
- Sarah Orne Jewett
- Elisha Williams
- David Souter
- John Kerry
- Edward Partridge