Elizabeth Jane Weston

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Elizabeth Jane Weston

Elizabeth Jane Weston (Latin: Elisabetha Joanna Westonia; Czech: Alžběta Johana Vestonie) (1581–1612) was an English-Czech poet, mostly known for her Neo-Latin poetry. She had the unusual distinction for a woman of the time of having her poetry published. The full works, published in two volumes in 1608, were entitled Parthenica (meaning Maidenly Writings). The subject matter varied between idyllic reveries, odes to Emperor Rudolf II (originally sent to him with the intention of convincing him to lend money), odes to herself, and anti-Semitic diatribes.

View of Prague's bridge over the Vltava river, 1606. One of Elizabeth Weston's poems was On the flooding of Prague that occurred after continual rains

She was born to Jane Cooper in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, England. Nothing is known about her father, but her stepfather, Edward Kelley, was a well-known alchemist. Kelley, along with John Dee, was employed in the court of Rudolf II, which resulted in the family moving to Prague (Kingdom of Bohemia).

Her command of languages was remarkable, being fluent in at least five: Czech, English, German, Italian, and Latin.

In 1603 she married a lawyer, Johnnes Leo. Together, they had seven children, before she died in childbirth in 1612. She is buried in St. Thomas' Church in Prague quarter Malá Strana (Lesser Town).

A collection of her poetry, edited and translated by Donald Cheney and Brenda M. Hosington, was published by the University of Toronto Press in 2000.

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