Buildings tell stories. Castles, country homes, churches, and monasteries are “documents” of the people who built them, owned them, lived and died in them, inherited and saved or destroyed them, and recorded their histories. Literature and Architecture in Early Modern England examines the relationship between sixteenth- and seventeenth-century architectural and literary works. By becoming more sensitive to the narrative functions of architecture, Anne M. Myers argues, we begin to understand how a range of writers viewed and made use of the material built environment that surrounded the production of early modern texts in England.
Scholars have long found themselves in the position of excusing or explaining England’s failure to achieve the equivalent of the Italian Renaissance in the visual arts. Myers proposes that architecture inspired an unusual amount of historiographic and literary production, including poetry, drama, architectural treatises, and diaries. Works by William Camden, Henry Wotton, Ben Jonson, Andrew Marvell, George Herbert, Anne Clifford, and John Evelyn, when considered as a group, are texts that overturn the engrained critical notion that a Protestant fear of idolatry sentenced the visual arts and architecture in England to a state of suspicion and neglect.