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Born in 1602 / Died in February 23, 1668 / United Kingdom / English


Owen Felltham, born about 1602, possibly at Mutford, a village near Lowestoft, Suffolk. Second son to his father, Thomas Felltham and mother, Mary Ufflete Felltham.

Felltham, appears to have been self-educated or that of a squire, for there is little information available that clearly states his education. He continued his self-education through out his life. And although one of his poems was later published in Panassis Biceps (1656), a collection of alumni of Oxford and Cambridge, there is no record of him attending either of these universities.

His influences included, Ben Jonson for whom he wrote the elegy ?To the Memory of Immortall BEN? a seventy-four-line poem which was published in Jonus Vibius, 1638, and possibly Bacon and Donne.

Felltham, as a young man traveled to London searching his fortune as a merchant. He married on October 10, 1621, his wife Mary Clopton of Kentwell Hall, Melford, Suffolk. By 1628 he left London, leaving his trade behind he then became steward to the Great Billing estate (Northamptonshire) belonging to Barnabas O?Brien (whom was to become the sixth Earl of Thomond after 1639), then to Henry O?Brien (seventh Earl Of Thomond). Later becoming steward to Dowager Countess Mary, Till his death on February 23, 1668 at her London townhouse. It also appears that his wife and/or any children they may have had, died before him, for there was no mention of them in his will.

In his lifetime Felltham wrote several pieces, his interest in moral problems clearly displayed in his work, which showed certain mastery in reflective prose and essays. Known and remembered primarily for his works, a collection of prose musings called Resolves Divine, Morall, Political originally published in 1623, and His most anthologized poem, "When, Dearest, I but think on thee,"

The original edition included 100 “resolves” that were considered to be “short, aphoristic commentaries on aspects of the three realms delineated by the title: divine, ethical, and political…[and] they concern[ed] in equal measure the private and public realms of middle-class English life.” Later revisions reflect how Feltham attempted to amalgamate these three distinct dimensions of “middle-class English life”—divine, ethical and political--into a more cohesive context. Or, in other words, the revisions reflect “ ‘the expansion of aphorisms into statements that approach conversation’…[which] corresponds to a more tolerant humanism.” This tolerance is perhaps best demonstrated in regards to the ubiquitous Woman Question, a debate which continued to play a large role in the social atmosphere of Renaissance Britain. Both men and women joined in the debate, and though unsurprisingly most men viewed the fairer sex in rigid terms—as either “unconstant” or “excellent”—there were many men like Feltham who preferred to “[accept] some assumptions about gender but [question] many others: he asks commonsense questions and is willing to look beyond stereotypes.” In his 1661 edition of Resolves, Feltham’s 85th resolve, entitled "Of Marriage and Single Life," he exhibits a particularly progressive social and sexual ideology: "A wise wife comprehends both sexes: she is a woman for her body, and she is a man within: for her soul is like her Husbands.... It is a Crown of blessings, when in one woman a man findeth both a wife and a friend." In his 1628 edition, which includes the resolve entitled “Of Woman,” Feltham observes the social disparities of his time in regards to gender equality. Though does not offer any solutions, he again makes incredibly astute commentary that could be considered a type of proto-feminist or proto-egalitarianist philosophy: “Whence proceed the most abhorred villainies, but from a masculine unblushing impudence? When a woman grows bold and daring, we dislike her, and say, ‘she is too like a man’: yet in our selves, we magnify what we condemn. Is not this injustice?”