Rosemary Freeman
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Rosemary Freeman

Rosemary Freeman (9 December 1913, London - 9 March 1972, London) was a British scholar of English literature, a reader at Birkbeck College, and a specialist in Edmund Spenser. She won the British Academy's Rose Mary Crawshay Prize in 1951.


Rosemary Freeman was the daughter of George Sydney Freeman and Adela Mary Grace Field.[1][2] She was educated at the St Paul's Girls' School, London, and graduated from Girton College, Cambridge. She held a fellowship at Smith College in Massachusetts in 1937-1938. During the Second World War, she taught at Queen Mary College, London and Birkbeck. In 1958-1959, she was an Ottilie Hancock fellow at Girton College. She was a reader in English literature at Birkbeck College, and a University examiner for teaching colleges.[3]

The marine biologist Mary Freeman was her brother Richard's wife.[4]

Freeman's investigations into the English Emblem books led to her eponymous publication in 1948, which won the Rose Mary Crawshay Prize in 1951. This was considered a pioneering study and remained the standard work for decades.[5]

Noting in the above book that the striking visual imagery in Edmund Spenser's poetry was a mirror of Renaissance emblems,[6] Freeman conducted a years-long research into his oeuvre. Two books resulted: a short life and times of the poet in the British Council's "Writers and Their Work" series (1962), then The Faerie Queen: A Companion for Readers (1970). The latter book received mixed reviews: her judgments were considered sensible and balanced yet her interpretations were thought comparatively unperceptive.[7]

Freeman died on 9 March 1972.[3]

Selected works

  • English Emblem Books. Chatto & Windus. 1948.
  • Edmund Spenser. Longmans, Green & Co. 1962.
  • 'The Faerie Queene': A Companion for Readers. Berkeley: University of California. 1970.


  1. ^ "Westminster Baptisms". FindMyPast. Retrieved 2021.
  2. ^ Birth, Marriage, Death & Parish Records, Series: 1914, p. 384. London: St Margaret, Westminster, City of Westminster Archives Centre.
  3. ^ a b Hardy, Barbara (March 20, 1972). "Obituary: Dr R Freeman, Scholar and Teacher". The Times.
  4. ^ "Mary Freeman obituary". The Times. May 29, 2018. Retrieved 2021.
  5. ^ Moseley, C.W.R.D. (1995). "Michael Bath, "Speaking Pictures: English Emblem Books and Renaissance Culture"". The Modern Language Review. 90 (1): 976. Retrieved 2021.
  6. ^ Thomson, Patricia (1971). "Jane Apetkar, "Icons of Justice: Iconography and Thematic Imagery in Book V of 'The Faerie Queene"". The Modern Language Review. 66 (1). Retrieved 2021.
  7. ^ Hieatt, A. Kent (1971). "Reviewed Works: The Faerie Queene, a Companion for Readers. by Rosemary Freeman;...". Renaissance Quarterly. 24 (4): 561. JSTOR 2859397.

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