Ramie Targoff

Ramie Targoff

Robert Lehman Visiting Professor
Shakespeare's Sisters
Ramie Targoff


Ramie Targoff is the Jehuda Reinharz Professor of the Humanities, Professor of English, and Co-Chair of Italian Studies at Brandeis University, where she has been teaching since 2001.  She is the author of Common Prayer: Language and Devotion in Early Modern England (2001),  John Donne, Body and Soul (2008); and Posthumous Love: Eros and the Afterlife in Renaissance England (2014), all from University of Chicago Press; and Renaissance Woman: The Life of Vittoria Colonna (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2018).  She has also recently completed a translation of Vittoria Colonna’s 1538 Rime, entitled Sonnets of Widowhood, from ITER Press and part of the Other Voice in Early Modern Europe series of women’s writers. Targoff is the recipient of fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, and she has been a Scholar in Residence at the American Academy in Rome. Her latest project, Shakespeare’s Sisters—a group biography of four women writers in Renaissance England—will be published in 2023 by Alfred K. Knopf in NY and Riverrun Press in London.  She has a BA in English from Yale University, and a PhD in English from University of California, Berkeley.

Project Summary

Shakespeare’s Sisters explores the overlapping lives and writing of four extraordinary Renaissance women writers: Mary Herbert, Aemilia Lanyer, Elizabeth Cary, and Anne Clifford. All four were all born in late sixteenth-century England and recognized as writers in their own lifetime, but then more or less entirely forgotten from the canon English literature until the late twentieth century. The book brings their lives and works into conversation with one another, and proposes an alternative literary history in which women were paving a proto-feminist tradition of their own.