The woman's labour: an epistle to Mr. Stephen Duck, in answer to his late poem The thresher's labour: to which are added, the three wise sentences taken from the first book of Esdras, ch. III and IV
London: Printed for the Author, and Sold by J. Roberts, 1739
Mary Collier was likely the first of the English poets to identify herself as of the “laboring classes.” Over her lifetime, Collier worked as a field worker, domestic, and brewer. Taught to read as a child by her mother, she hoped to supplement her income by self-publishing and selling her book of poems. Collier included a signed attestation corroborating that the poems were indeed written by her, a strategy later employed in Phillis Wheatley’s Poems (1773). In The Thresher’s Lament, Stephen Duck denigrated women’s labor. Collier responded in witty though scathing verse in The Woman’s Labour. This is the only known copy of the second edition of this work.
When Ev'ning does approach, we homeward hie, And our domestic Toils incessant ply: Against your coming Home prepare to get Our Work all done, our House in order set Bacon and Dumpling in the Pot we boil, Our beds we make, our Swine we feed the while Then wait at Door to see you coming Home, And set the Table out against you come: Early next Morning we on you attend Our Children dress and feed, their Cloaths we mend And in the Field our daily Task renew, Soon as the rising Sun has dry'd the Dew.
Collier, Mary, The woman's labour: an epistle to Mr. Stephen Duck, in answer to his late poem The thresher's labour: to which are added, the three wise sentences taken from the first book of Esdras, ch. III and IV, London: Printed for the Author, and Sold by J. Roberts, 1739, Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Accessed March 04, 2021, https://exhibits.library.duke.edu/exhibits/show/baskin/item/4027