When John Woodbridge, Bradstreet's brother-in-law, compiled her poetry for publication, he included a preface vouching for the book's authenticity and for his sister-in-law's character:

...the worse effect of his [the reader's] reading will be unbelief, which will make him question whether it be a woman's work, and ask, is it possible? If any do, take this as an answer from him that dares to avow it; it is the work of a woman, honored, and esteemed where she lives, for her gracious demeanor, her eminent parts, her pious conversation, her courteous disposition, her exact diligence in her place, and discreet managing of her family occasions, and more than so, these poems are the fruit but of some few hours, curtailed from her sleep and other refreshments.

Why so you think Woodbridge felt compelled to include this information as a preface Bradstreet's poetry? What does this preface reveal about women's status in Puritan society? What does it tell us about the kinds of anxieties Bradstreet probably felt with regard to her poetry and its publication? 

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John Woodbridge understood that the duties of a Puritan woman in the seventeenth century were to keep the house, care for the children, defer to her husband and the authority of men in general, and keep salvation constantly in her thoughts. It is likely that he felt compelled to speak for Anne Bradstreet's character because the writing of poetry would have likely been seen in those times as an act of vanity. He is careful to point out that she was diligent in all aspects of what was expected of her and that the writing time was carved out of her nightly rest or other rare unoccupied hours.

Anne Bradstreet might have felt anxiety about the publication of her poetry because it might have suggested to others that she spent time on a self-indulgent act of writing instead of seeing to the needs of others or worshipping God.

The social status of women in Puritan society was quite low. Their status was lower than even their male children, because it was a...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 511 words.)

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