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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Hannah Woolley

b. 1623, England; d. circa 1675, England

Hannah Woolley (Wolley), medical practitioner and writer, turned her knowledge of household management into a profitable enterprise. She married Jerome Woolley, a schoolmaster, in 1646. Together they ran a free grammar school at Newport. Hannah had practiced medicine before the marriage and continued to do so at the school. A few years later, the Woolleys opened a school in Hackney. Hannah was widowed in 1661 and from that year onward published several books, all-purpose household manuals containing a hodgepodge of information: recipes, notes on domestic management, embroidery instruction, the etiquette of letter writing, medicinal advice, perfume making. The first of these popular books was The Ladies Directory (1661); the last, A Supplement to the “Queen-Like Closet,” or, A Little of Every Thing (1674). An unauthorized work based on her books was published in 1673 as The Gentlewoman’s Companion.