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Heywood, Thomas (d. 1641) Gynaikeion: or, Nine Bookes of Various History Concerninge Women.
London: Printed by Adam Islip, 1624.
First edition, small folio, engraved title; amateurishly rebound in full leather, lacking first and last blanks, some staining, a few scattered signatures at beginning and end, 10 3/4 x 7 1/4 in.
Heywood was both playwright and a contemporary of Shakespeare. Here he examines real and mythic women and gives interesting insight into western culture's perception about females and femininity. During Heywood's lifetime two very different queens ruled England while several others were imprisoned and executed. Each of the nine books is named after a muse and takes her attributes as its inspiration to extrapolate. The fourth book, Melpomene, describes "Women incestuous, adulteresses, and such as have come by strange deaths"; Terpsichore, the fifth book, is about "Amazons, and other women famous either for valour or beautie"; Urania, the eighth book, is concerned with poetesses and witches; and the final chapter, Calliope, shows the punishments given to the "vitious" and the rewards reaped by the virtuous.