Lucy Russell

Contributor: Professor Michelle O'Callaghan

Lucy Harington-Russell, Countess of Bedford (1580-1627), was a prestigious courtier of Queen Anne. She was at the centre of a wide circle of female and male wits, some of whom sought or enjoyed her patronage such as Jonson, Donne, Francis Beaumont, Sir John Roe, Sir Thomas Overbury, Sir Edward Herbert, Lord Cherbury, William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke and Sir Benjamin Rudyerd.

'Death be not proud' is the only known verse that can be attributed with any confidence to Lady Bedford. As an elegy paired with John Donne's 'Death I recant' it is a rare example of a verse exchange between patron and client in early modern England. It is part of a wider publishing event in which Lady Bedford appears to have played a key role, prompted by the deaths of Bulstrode and Markham.