Exhibtion Index  Credits   Bryn Mawr College Library    

Elizabeth CellierThe Tryal and Sentence of Elizabeth Cellier, For Writing, Printing, and Publishing, A Scandalous Libel, Called Malice Defeated, &c...  London: Printed for Thomas Collins, 1680.
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Elizabeth Cellier was accused and imprisoned as a Catholic conspirator in the fraudulent "Meal Tub Plot".  After the plot was exposed and she was released, she wrote and published a book called Malice Defeated; or a Brief Relation of the Accusation and Deliverance of Elizabeth Cellier, describing the Plot and various other persecutions of the Catholics by the government.  The book was immediately translated into French and found a ready audience among Catholics.  Because of the pamphlet Cellier was charged with libel and sedition.  The case was of tremendous public interest, and the Mayor of London had this account of the trial published.  Cellier attempted to show throughout the trial that she might not be the author of the work published under her name and sold by her at her home, but the jury did not believe it.  It is interesting to note that once it became clear that the trial was going against her, she cast her defense in terms of a plea for mercy based on the fact that she was a woman and had not known it was illegal to publish the material of the book.   Although she was a forceful, active, extremely intelligent woman, she called on a stereotype of female weakness and ignorance in her appeal.

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