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Quaker Studies

Abstract

Early Quakers disapproved of most aspects of popular culture, and before 1661 they published very little verse. During the 1660s some thirty Quaker authors published verse, addressed both to Quakers and to the public. The impetus behind this surge of verse publication was probably the appearance during 1660 and 1661 of a number of papers by John Perrot, a Quaker preacher who had been arrested in Italy and imprisoned by the Inquisition . His writings, which were brought to England, included a considerable amount of poetry. Perrot was released in 1661 and returned to England, feted by many Quakers as a near martyr. It is likely that his example encouraged others to publish their efforts at verse-making. The Quaker leadership considered Perrot a disruptive influence, and for several years there was a serious dispute, publicly conducted, within the Quaker movement. This would account for the timing of mnch of the published Quaker verse, and the fact that the authors included Quakers on both sides of the dispute. Most of it was published in 1662- 63, before the breach between Perrot and the leadership seemed irretrievable. The outpouring of verse publication diminished towards the end of the decade, and during the rest of the century not much Quaker verse was published.

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