Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Whitelocke Anthology: "Mary Sidney Herbert: A Winsome Spinster"

Below is an extract from my popular historical work "Mary Sidney Herbert: A Winsome Spinster". This snippet comes from chapter 14, entitled "Mary dips a toe in the pond and becomes the mother of modern America":

History records that Mary Sidney demonstrated a great deal of interest in the actions of her famous brother, Sir Philip Sidney. Whiling away the days with Sir Phillip, this most winsome and flirtatious of vixens would dream about founding of a Protestant empire, the great jewel of which was to be the Americas, considered by Mary to be the last great refuge from Papery. To this end it is widely believed that Mary Sidney offered a great deal of support to a Mr Frobisher whom she believed would be essential in discovering and settling the protestant wonderland.

It is unclear, however, to which of the following famous North American statesmen of that name the references to this Frobisher character (which largely come from Gary Waller's seminal work Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke: A Critical Study of Her Writings and Literary Milieu. Salzburg: University of Salzburg Press, 1979) actually relate:

a) Benjamin Joseph Frobisher (1782 – 1821) a noted seal clubber and sworn enemy of Hudson's Bay Company in Southern Canada;

b) Sir Martin Frobisher (1535 – 1594) an explorer noted for his many failed attempts to find the Northwest Passage but great success in defending England from the Spanish Armada; or

c) Arthur Frobisher, (undisclosed) a successful industrialist and carouser but unsuccessful class action defendant.

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