In 1611, Aemilia Lanyer broke new ground female writers when she became the first woman to publish an English-language poetry collection under her own name. Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum would prove to be the only volume of poetry that Lanyer would publish, in part because she was no some lonely spinster sitting all alone at home with more than enough time to meditate upon mysteries of the world commit her findings to verse.
Henry Cary was not only Lord Chamberlain to Queen Elizabeth I, he was the much older lover and patron who took on Lanyer as a long-term mistress. Cary was also a patron of Shakepeare’s acting troupe which has led to consider speculation over whether Lanyer might not also be the unidentified “Dark Lady” to whom Shakespeare addresses several of his love sonnet.
Published in 1610, Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum affirms not on its status as landmark in feminism, but its intention to become one with Lanyer’s highly unusual to address the contents exclusively to the women who might read it. Those contents situate the volume as an essential component of what came to be known as the querelle de femmes: texts by both men and women that serve to create a spirited argument on the issue of the worthiness of the female sex. Most of the poems in the collection present a strong argument in favor of this worthiness through allusion to famous feminine figure of the past. The tome is also notable for containing what has been identified as the first published example of what would become a popular genre of British verse, the “country house poem”