Katherine Philips started writing soon after her marriage in 1647, aged sixteen, to James Philips. He was a prominent supporter of the Parliamentary cause, whereas Katherine enthusiastically welcomed the Restoration of the English monarchy in 1660.

Katherine Philips formed a literary circle of friends known as ‘The Society of Friendship’, whose members adopted classical pen names when they wrote poetry. She wrote as ‘Orinda’, and many of her poems were addressed to other women, known, for example, as ‘Rosania’ and ‘Lucasia’. Critics have been intrigued by the nature of the relationships developed by these women, whose feelings are expressed with some intensity, especially in Katherine Philips’ poetry.

In addition to writing poetry that was elegant and polished, if somewhat conventional, Katherine Philips was an outstanding linguist and completed many translations of verse and drama from the French. Her talent was widely celebrated by other prominent writers of the period. She died in 1664 of smallpox.

Recording commissioned by the Poetry Archive, reproduced here by kind permission of the reader.

Poems by Katherine Philips


Read by Patience Agbabi
Epitaph - Katherine Philips - Read by Patience Agbabi