A form of courtesy literature, Mother's Advice Books were texts written by mothers to instruct their children in religious, educational, and occasionally wordly matters. The three texts included in this volume, Elizabeth Richardson's A Ladies Legacie to her Davghters, Susanna Bell's The Legacy of a Dying Mother To Her Mourning Children, and the unattributed The Mothers Blessing, offer interesting alternatives to the many published male views of the family from the period.
Indeed, this volume features an appendix with two much shorter portions of predominantly male-authored texts: Mary Pennyman's letter to her children, published as part of John Pennyman's Instruction to his Children, and Elizabeth Walker's 'For my Dear Children, Mrs.Margaret Walker and Elizabeth Walker', included in Anthony Walker's The Holy Life of Mrs. Elizabeth Walker. The fact that these women were mothers gave them an authority to write that other women were not easily granted, and it is clear that many of these works were written with publication in mind.
In addition to giving women public status as authors, these books also enabled them to enter political and religious debates under the guise of offering advice to their children.
The Mother's Advice Book is, then, an intriguing genre that simultaneously violates and yet replicates early modern patriarchy.