Like most Puritan women of her time, Anne Bradstreet was probably expected to fulfill the only duties women were expected to perform. Marry well and have children. Of which she did both. However, Anne Bradstreet was the first women to ever break beyond the boundaries of her societal expectations and become the first recognized female poet in North America. Drawing inspiration from her family life as a wife and mother, Anne wrote about her family, her love of nature, her faith and the happiness and hardships in her life. There was sensitivity, but strength in Anne's poems and she had an uncanny ability to speak to all people on all levels, not just with women.
Born Anne Dudley in Northampton, England 1612, Anne grew up in a wealthy family where she was highly educated. She married Simon Bradstreet when she was sixteen and with him left England and sailed to Massachusetts. Anne and Simon had eight children of which seven of them manged to live to adulthood (a rarity back then). Simon Bradstreet was influential in the building of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and was governor from 1679-1686 and from 1689-1692.
Anne's poetry ranged from humorously sweet to suddenly dark and heartbreaking. The death of her child, her grandchildren and her daughter in law all impacted her greatly and more than once her faith was shaken. As a Puritan women she was expected to keep her feelings and private opinions to herself and to never speak of them out loud. Anne's poetry was her internal expression of her thoughts of her life as a wife and mother, as a women who loved God, but also as a person who struggled with loss and grief. You can view all of Anne's works here.
Oddly enough, Anne never intended to be published. Women were not considered intelligent enough to understand the intellectual mind and for a women to even write about anything was unheard of. However, Anne's brother in law took her works and had them published without her knowing. Afterwards, Anne's poetry become the sound of the new America. While Anne may have broken several gender barriers, women still had a long way to go before they obtained social equality. Anne's insight on life as told through a homemaker and a Christian continues to inspire people today and is why she considered one of the most influential writers of the early American period.