Author. She has been recognized as one of the most noted women authors of the Elizabethan era. As the sister of noted English poet Sir Philip Sidney, she authored a vast body of documents mainly on religious themes, which was thought to be within the realm of what an English lady during this era should be writing. All of her writings, except for some business letters, were published in the 1590s. Her first known work was “The Doleful Lay of Clorinda” in 1595. She published her works in her own name, which was thought to be bold for an aristocratic lady. To keep peace, she never mention anything political. After her brother's death, she published his writings, praises written about him, and completed his translation of the book of Psalms from the Bible in 1599. Like her brother, she studied literature and was fluent in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. After her sister's death, Queen Elizabeth invited her to come from Wales to court in 1575. When she was fifteen years old, she became the third wife of Second Earl of Pembroke, one of the richest and most influential men in England. With his help, she became a generous patron of the poets including Ben Johnson and Samuel Daniel. When her residences, Wilton and Baynards Castle, burned in the 17th century, many of her writings were lost. She was the daughter of Sir Henry Sidney, President of the Council of Wales and the Marches, and Mary Dudley. Her father was a close companion of King Edward VI; the king died in her father's arms. Her mother was well-educated, a close companion of Queen Elizabeth, and the sister of Robert Dudley. During a smallpox epidemic, her mother was badly scarred from the pox as a result of nursing Queen Elizabeth, thus rarely appeared in court after that. She experienced a tragedy of deaths: Her three year old daughter died in 1584 on the same day as her son was born. Then in 1586 within months of each other, both her parents died, and she was the only child to attend their funerals as her brothers were deployed fighting in a war with Spain. In October of the same year, her beloved brother Philip died 22 days after being shot in the thigh by a Spanish bullet. It was at this point, she began to write. Although she held a high position in Queen Elizabeth's court, she, as a widowed Dowager Countess, lost influence in King James' court, but her son Philip took her place. Toward the end of her life, she signed some of her writings as “Pembroke.” She died of smallpox. In 1963, the 16th Earl of Pembroke, installed a brass plaque commemorating her and her husband since no earlier one had survived.
Bio by: Linda Davis
Underneath this sable hearse
Lies the subject of all verse;
Sidney's sister, Pembroke's mother'
Death ere thou hast slain another.
Fair and learned and good as she
Time shall throw a dart at thee.