This article examines early modern English translations of Augustine’s Confessions through the lens of gendered reading practices, arguing that early modern readers associated English translations of the Confessions with women’s “closet” reading. In the 1620s and 30s, a time period when many aristocratic English women were converting to Catholicism, devotional texts proved strategic as means of influencing female readers. In this context, Tobie Matthew’s 1620 translation of the Confessions, a work with a preface and notes that evince a strong bias toward Roman Catholicism, proved contentious. Matthew’s detractors attacked not only the translation but also Matthew himself, characterizing him as a figure who transgressed gender boundaries and binaries. By tracing the responses that Matthew’s translation garnered, this article reveals the strategic and contested nature of women’s “closet” reading in early modern England.


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