Technical Writing for Women of the English Renaissance Academic Article uri icon


  • Technical books for women of the English Renaissance provide a microcosm for studying connections among the emergence of technical writing as a genre, the rise of literacy, expansion of knowledge and technology, and replacement of orality by textuality as a result of increasing knowledge. These books on Renaissance technologies such as cooking, carving, household “physick,” home management, silkworm production, farming and estate management, midwifery, medical self-diagnosis, and gardening exhibit some differences from technical books written for men. Books for women are shorter and less detailed, but their style is similar to that of books for men. The style does not suggest writers believed that their women readers possessed an inferior reading comprehension level. Content differences seem to suggest that women's work was different from men's with many skills taught by oral transmission. The increasing complexity of the styles of technical books for women during the 16th and early 17th centuries suggests that women's reading skills increased as knowledge increased. Thus the oral style of the early 16th-century technical books disappeared with the need for an analytical style that would better convey growth of knowledge in the English Renaissance.

published proceedings

  • Written Communication

author list (cited authors)


citation count

  • 11

complete list of authors


publication date

  • April 1993