News & Events
Kinnamon Wins Book Award
Dr. Noel Kinnamon, professor emeritus of English at Mars Hill College, is one of a trio of editors who have received the Josephine A. Roberts Award for Scholarly Editions from the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women.
The award-winning book, The Correspondence (c. 1626-1659) of Dorothy Percy Sidney, Countess of Leicester (Ashgate, 2010), is the sixth book edited by Kinnamon in collaboration with Dr. Margaret Hannay, professor of English at Siena College in New York and Dr. Michael G. Brennan, professor of Renaissance Studies at the University of Leeds (UK). Each of the six books makes available the writings of various members of the Sidney family, an aristocratic household which enjoyed prominence in England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.
This is the second time that Kinnamon, Hannay and Brennan have won the Josephine A. Roberts Award. The first was for their co-editing of The Collected Works of Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1998).
In announcing the 2011 awards, a reviewer for the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women said: “It is hard to imagine a more comprehensive, meticulously researched, and minutely detailed edition than this one of the correspondence of Dorothy Percy Sidney, Countess of Leicester, from the early reign of Charles I through to her death on the eve of the Stuart restoration in 1659…[T]he letters [are] a rich and entirely accessible trove of information about individuals in pivotal positions in England and Ireland throughout the mid-seventeenth century, most especially during the contentious 1640s and 1650s.”
As the textual scholar of the group, Kinnamon has spent 35 years poring over literally thousands of poems, letters and other writings of the Sidney family, making annotations and observations which aid the reader in understanding the import of each entry. Through the words of the Sidney family, Kinnamon has been observer to everything from the daily decisions of the English aristocracy, to the discussions of loving parents who hope to make a satisfying marriage match for their daughter; everything from the political maneuverings of Queen Elizabeth’s court to the intimate expressions of love – or anger — between man and wife.
“That’s one of the real pleasures of working with these letters.” Kinnamon said. “You are able to listen in on a life.”
According to Kinnamon, the letters of Dorothy Percy Sidney are especially important in showing modern readers the surprisingly complex role of women in the male-dominated society of 17th century England. While all women, even those in the aristocracy, had limited control over their lives and possessions, any notion of utter subservience is far too simplistic.
“The real value of the letters is that they clarify the role of early modern women. They show that that role was more complex than you might think,” Kinnamon said. “It was still a hierarchical society; women were still subordinate and restricted, but that didn’t mean necessarily the family relationships were not loving. It was accepted as part of their culture that the men would be head of household and all of that. But it is clear that there was a lot of affection there; and also that she had a lot of responsibility for the decisions of the household.”