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Charity Cannon Willard papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00558

Scope and Contents

The collection contains writings by Charity Cannon Willard and others about Christine de Pizan (1363-1440), including essays, lectures, articles, notes, and books. There are approximately 40 reels of microfilm of source materials collected by Willard as well as slides and photographs of original manuscripts from other archival repositories.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1891 - 2006


Language of Materials

English, French

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

Materials in this collection may be governed by copyright. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. Researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

Charity Cannon Willard was born in Eureka, Illinois, August 9, 1914. She earned her A.B. at Hiram College in 1934, her M.A. in French at Smith College in 1936, and her Ph.D. in Romance Philology at Radcliffe College/Harvard University in 1940. She studied at the Radcliffe Institute for Independent Study from 1962 to 1966, and at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris during the 1967-1968 academic year. She was married to Sumner Willard, a colonel at West Point Military Academy. Since West Point officers' wives were not permitted to work fulltime outside the home, Willard declined the offer of a professorship at Brown University and instead taught children at West Point and spent time in Europe searching for existing manuscripts of Christine de Pizan. She later taught at Ladycliff College, a women's college in Highland Falls, N.Y. (now closed). She was the first West Point colonel's wife to pursue a professional career. Willard became an internationally recognized authority on France's first professional woman of letters, Christine de Pizan, and is credited with establishing de Pizan's reputation in the English-speaking world. She was the author of Christine de Pizan: Her Life and Works (New York: Persea Books, 1984), and produced many translations and critical editions of de Pizan's work.

Willard was awarded the Ordres des Palmes Academiques by the French government in 1984, the Distinguished Alumnae Award from Hiram College in 1988, an L.H.D. from Saint Mary College in 1993, and a Smith College Medal in 1998. She died June 5, 2005.

Christine de Pizan (1363-1440) was the daughter of Tommaso di Benvenuto da Pizzano, a lecturer in astrology at the University of Bologna (1348) and later a physician. Shortly after Christine's birth, her father became court astrologer to Charles V, moving the family to Paris in 1368. De Pizan was educated by her father in spite of her mother's objections, and was married at age fifteen to Étienne du Castel, a royal secretary, who encouraged her to continue her studies. She was widowed at age twenty-five and left with three children, a niece, and her own widowed mother to support; her father had died impoverished, and her husband's estate took fourteen years and numerous lawsuits to close. Most feminist scholars date the beginning of the modern feminist movement to the works of Christine de Pizan. She was France's, and possibly Europe's, first woman known to have earned her living by the pen; she is also considered by some scholars to be Europe's first professional writer, male or female. While establishing her reputation as a writer, she earned her living by copying and illustrating other people's works. Her works included all genres: biography, autobiography, poetry, history, novels, short stories, feminist polemics, books on advice and morality, military techniques, religion, politics, and literary commentary.



9.542 linear feet (10 containers)


Papers of Charity Cannon Willard, biographer of early French feminist and author Christine de Pizan (1363-1440). Included are writings by Charity Cannon Willard and others about Christine de Pizan and microfilmed manuscripts and other source materials collected by Willard.


This collection is organized into six series:

  2. II. NOTES
  7. BOOKS


This collection has been added to over time in multiple "accessions." An accession is a group of materials received from the same source at approximately the same time.

Other Finding Aids

One or more content listings to individual accessions in this collection are available for download. Links can be found in the description of the individual accessions.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Charity Cannon Willard Papers were donated by her estate in 2006. Additional materials were purchased from Charles Apfelbaum in 2007 and donated by Elaine McConnell (2009), Richard Cortell (2013), and Christine Reno (2015).

Related Material

Associated material located in Smith College Archives, Smith Medalists files.

APPENDIX: Publications on Christine de Pizan


  1. Édition Critique of Le Livre de la paix, by Christine de Pizan. The Hague: Mouton, 1958.
  2. Christine de Pizan, Her Life and Works. New York: Persea, 1985.
  3. Text established in collaboration with Eric Hicks. Le Livre des trois vertus. Paris: Champion, 1989.
  4. Translator of A Medieval Woman's Mirror of Honor: The Treasury of the City of Ladies. ed. Madeleine Pelner Cosman. New York: Persea, 1989.
  5. Editor of The Writings of Christine de Pizan. New York: Persea, 1993.
  6. Editor of The Book of Arms and of Chivalry, by Christine de Pizan. Trans. B. G. Sumner Willard. University Park, Penn.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999.
  7. Foreword to Christine de Pizan: A Casebook. New York, NY: Routledge; 2003. xiii, pp. 296
  8. The "Livre de la Paix" of Christine de Pizan: A Critical Edition with Introduction and Notes. The Hague: Mouton, 1958.
  9. Editor. Les Faits d'armes et de chevalerie. Édition critique. Forthcoming.

Book Reviews

  1. Review of: Rains, R.R., ed. Les Sept Psaumes allégorisé Romance Philology. Vol. XXI, No. 1. Berkeley: University of California Press, August 1967.
  2. Review of: Hicks, Eric. "Le Débat sur le Roman de la Rose." 1977.
  3. Review of: McLeod, Enid. The Order of the Rose: The Life and Ideas of Christine de Pizan.

Book Articles

  1. "Isabel of Portugal, Patroness of Humanism?" in Simone, Franco. Miscellanea di studi e recherché sul Quatrocento francese. Torino: Gioppichelli, 1967. 519-544.
  2. "Christine de Pizan on the Art of Warfare" in Desmond, Marilynn, ed. Christine de Pizan and the Categories of Difference. Minneapolis, MN: U of Minnesota P; 1998. pp. 3-15. xix, 287 pp. in Essays in Honor of L. F. Solano, ed. Raymond Cormier and Urban Holmes. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1970.
  3. "A Fifteenth-Century View of Women's Role in Medieval Society: Christine de Pizan's Livre des Trois Vertus" In Morewedge, Rosemarie Thee. The Role of Women in the Middle Ages, Papers of the sixth annual conference of the Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Study, State University of New York at Binghamton 6-7 May 1972. Albany and London: State University of New York Press and Hodder and Stroughton, 1975. 90-120.
  4. "Christine de Pizan, The Astrologer's Daughter." in Moyen Age et Renaissance, ed. Jonathan Beck and Gianni Mombello. Vol. 1 of Mélanges à la mémoire de Franco Simone: France et Italie dans la culture européenne. Geneva: Slatkine, 1980.
  5. "A New Look at Christine de Pizan's Epistre au dieu d'Amours"In Beck, Jonathan and Mombello, Gianni. Seconda miscellanea di studi e ricerche sul quatttrocento francese. Chambéry et Turin, Centre d'études franco-italien. 1981. 71-92.
  6. "Christine de Pizan and the Order of the Rose" in Ideals for Women in the Works of Christine de Pizan, ed. Diane Bornstein. Michigan Consortium of Medieval and Early Modern Studies Monograph Series 1. 1981.
  7. "Christine de Pizan's 'Cent ballades d'amant et de dame': Criticism of Courtly Love" in Burgess, Glyn S. (ed.); Deyermond, A. D. (ed.); Jackson, W. H. (ed.); Mills, A. D. (ed.); Ricketts, P. T. (ed.); Court and Poet: Selected Proceedings of the Third Congress of the International Courtly Literature Society, Liverpool, 1980. Liverpool: Cairns; 1981. pp. 357-364. xii, 364 pp.
  8. "Christine de Pizan's Livre des Trois Vertus: Feminine Ideal or Practical Advice?" in Ideals for Women in the Works of Christine de Pizan, ed. Diane Bornstein. Michigan Consortium of Medieval and Early Modern Studies Monograph Series 1. 1981.
  9. "The Duke of Berry's Multiple Copies of the Fleur des histoires d'Orient" in Bichakjian, Bernard H. (ed.); From Linguistics to Literature: Romance Studies Offered to Francis M. Rogers. Amsterdam: Benjamins; 1981. pp. 281-292. 292 pp.
  10. "The Franco-Italian Professional Writer: Christine de Pizan" in Janssens, G. A. M. (ed.); Aarts, F. G. A. M. (ed.); Studies in Seventeenth-Century English Literature, History, and Bibliography: Festschrift for Professor T. A. Birrell on the Occasion of His Sixtieth Birthday. Amsterdam: Rodopi; 1984. pp. 333-363 vii, 268 pp.
  11. "Concepts of Love according to Guillaume de Machaut, Christine de Pizan, and Pietro Bembo" in Burgess, Glyn S. (ed.); Taylor, Robert A. (ed.); Deyermond, Alan (ed.); Green, Dennis (ed.); Rowland, Beryl (ed.); The Spirit of the Court: Selected Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the International Courtly Literature Society (Toronto 1983). Dover, NH: Brewer; 1985. pp. 386-392, 408 pp.
  12. "Margaret of Austria: Regent of the Netherlands" in Wilson, Katharina M. (ed.); Women Writers of the Renaissance and Reformation. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1987. pp. 350-362
  13. "Punishment and Reward in Christine de Pizan's Lyric Poetry" In Davies, Peter V., and Kennedy, Angus J. Rewards and Punishment in the Arthurian Romances and Lyric Poetry of Medieval France, Essays Presented to Kenneth Varty on the Occasion of His Sixtieth Birthday. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer (Arthurian studies, XVII), 1987. 165-174.
  14. "Christine de Pizan on Chivalry" in Chickering, Howell (ed. and introd.); Seiler, Thomas H. (ed.); The Study of Chivalry: Resources and Approaches. Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute, Western Michigan University, 1988. 511-28.
  15. "Raoul de Presles's Translation of Saint Augustine's De Civitate Dei" in Beer, Jeanette (ed.); Medieval Translators and Their Craft. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute, Western Michigan University, 1989. pp. 329-346.
  16. "Jean de Werchin, Seneschal de Hainaut: Reader and Writer of Courtly Literature" in Busby, Keith (ed.); Kooper, Erik (ed.); Courtly Literature: Culture and Context. Amsterdam: Benjamins; 1990. pp. 595-603.
  17. "L'idée du Bonheur chez Christine de Pizan" In Bushinger, Danielle. L'Idée du bonheur au moyen âge, Actes du Colloque d'Amiens de mars 1984. Göppingen, Kümmerle (Göppinger Arbeiten zur Germanistik, CDXIX), 1990. 97-102.
  18. "Anne de France, Reader of Christine de Pizan" in McLeod, Glenda K. Visitors to the City: Readers of Christine Pizan. Lewiston, NY: Edward Mellen, 1991.
  19. "Antoine de la Salle, Reader of Christine de Pizan" in McLeod, Glenda K. Visitors to the City: Readers of Christine Pizan. Lewiston, NY: Edward Mellen, 1991.
  20. "Christine de Pizan" in Sartori, Eva Martin (ed.); Zimmerman, Dorothy Wynne; French Women Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical Source Book. New York: Greenwood; 1991. pp. 56-65.
  21. "Christine de Pizan." in Vol. 2 of An Encyclopedia of Continental Women Writers, ed. Katherina M. Wilson. New York and London: Garland, 1991.
  22. "Christine de Pizan: From Poet to Political Commentator" in Brabant, Margaret (ed.); Elshtain, Jean Bethke (introd.); Politics, Gender, and Genre: The Political Thought of Christine de Pizan. Boulder: Westview; 1992. pp. 17-32. xii, 240 pp.
  23. "Une Source oubliée du voyage imaginaire de Christine de Pizan" in Aubailly, Jean-Claude, Baumgartner; Emmanuèle; Dubost, Francis; Dulac, Liliane; and Faure, Marcel. "Et c'est la fin pour que sommes ensemble," hommage à Jean Dufournet: littérature, histoire, et langue du moyen âge. Paris: Champion, t. I, 1993. 321-326.
  24. "Christine de Pizan's Allegorized Psalms" in Dulac, Liliane and Ribémont, Bernard. Une femme de Lettres au moyen âge: études réunies autour de Christine de Pizan. Orléans: Paradigme, 1995. 317-324
  25. . "Pilfering Vegetius? Christine de Pizan's 'Faits d'Armes et de Chevalerie' " in Smith, Lesley (ed.); Taylor, Jane H. M. (ed.); Women, the Book and the Worldly. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer; 1995. pp. 31-37.
  26. "Gilles de Chin in History, Literature, and Folklore" in Kelly, Douglas (ed.); The Medieval Opus: Imitation, Rewriting, and Transmission in the French Tradition. Amsterdam: Rodopi; 1996. 357-66.
  27. "The Patronage of Isabel of Portugal" in McCash, June Hall (ed.); Nichols, Stephen G. (foreword); The Cultural Patronage of Medieval Women. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1996. 306-20.
  28. "Louis de Bruges, lecteur de Christine de Pizan" In Cahiers de Recherches Médiévales. XIII-XV s. 4, 1997. pp. 191-195.
  29. "The Dominican Abbey of Poissy in 1400" in Campbell, John (ed. and preface); Margolis, Nadia (ed. and introd.); Christine de Pizan 2000. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Rodopi; 2000. pp. 209-18. 429 pp.
  30. "A Singular Career: College Professor and Army Wife" (1914- ) In Chance, Jane (ed. and introd.); Women Medievalists and the Academy. Madison : University of Wisconsin Press, 2005. 759-68.

Journal Articles

  1. "The 'Three Virtues' of Christine de Pizan." In Boston Public Library Quarterly (1950): 201-305.
  2. "Christine de Pizan's 'Clock of Temperance.'" L'Esprit Créateur 2 (1962): 149-54.
  3. "A Portuguese Translation of Christine de Pisan's Livre des Trois Vertus" PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 78 (1963): 459-64.
  4. "An Autograph Manuscript of Christine de Pizan." Studi Francesi 78 (1965): 452-57.
  5. "Isabel of Portugal and the French Translation of the Triunfo de las donas" Revue Belge de Philologie et d'Histoire/Belgische Tijdschrift voor Filologieen Geschiedenis, 1965; 43: 961-969.
  6. "The Manuscript Tradition of Le Livre des Trois Vertus and Christine de Pizan's Audience." Journal of the History of Ideas 27 (1966): 433-44.
  7. "The Remarkable Case of Clotilde de Surville" L'Esprit Créateur, 1966; 6: 108-116.
  8. "The Concept of True Nobility at the Burgundian Court" Studies in the Renaissance, 1967; 14: 33-48.
  9. "A Fifteenth-Century Burgundian Version of the Roman de Florimont"Medievalia et Humanistica. II (n.s.). 1971. 21-46.
  10. "A Re-Examination of Le Débat des deux amants"Les Bonnes Feuilles. III. 1974. 73-88.
  11. "An Unknown Manuscript of Christine de Pizan's Livre de la paix" Studi Francesi, 1978; 64: 90-97.
  12. "Jean Bodel and Christine de Pizan, Pastoral Poets" Marche Romane, 1980; 30 (3-4): 293-300.
  13. "Lovers' Dialogues in Christine de Pizan's Lyric Poetry from the Cent ballades to the Cent ballades d'Amant et de Dame" Fifteenth-Century Studies, 1981; 4: 167-180.
  14. "Essor et Fortune de la Chanson de Geste dans l'Europe et l'orient latin" Actes du IXe Congrès International de la Société Rencesvals pour l'Étude des Épopées Romanes. Padoue-Venise: Mucchi Editore, 29 Aug. - 4 Sept., 1982.
  15. "Florent et Octavien: The Fourteenth-Century Poem" Olifant: A Publication of the Société Rencesvals, American-Canadian Branch, 1989 Fall-Winter; 14 (3-4): 179-189.
  16. "Women and Marriage Around 1400: Three Views" Fifteenth-Century Studies, 1990; 17: 475-484.
  17. "Christine de Pizan as Teacher" Romance Languages Annual, 1992; 3: 132-36.
  18. "L'influence de l'image sur l'imagination de Christine de Pizan"Wodam, 1992.
  19. "Renard et ses compagnons dans les sermons de Jean Gerson" Reinardus: Yearbook of the International Reynard Society/Annuaire de la Société Internationale Renardienne, 1992; 5: 209-15.

Replies to the Following Articles

  1. "Dignity and Desire: The Alba Poet's Liberation of the Courtly Lady" By: Sigal, Gale; in O'Nan, Martha (ed.); Papers on Romance Literary Relations: The Creation of Female Voices by Male Writers in Romance Literatures. Brockport: State University of New York; 1987. pp. 9-20.
  2. "Doing unto Others as Was Done unto Her: The pícara in Spanish Golden Age Fiction" By: Ackerlind, Sheila R. in O'Nan, Martha (ed.); Papers on Romance Literary Relations: The Creation of Female Voices by Male Writers in Romance Literatures. Brockport: State Univ. of New York; 1987. pp. 23-29.
  3. "Enide and Fenice: Chrétien de Troyes's Clerkly Heroines" By: Armstrong, Grace M. In O'Nan, Martha (ed.); Papers on Romance Literary Relations: The Creation of Female Voices by Male Writers in Romance Literatures. Brockport: State Univ.of New York; 1987. pp. 1-8.

Processing Information

Preliminary processing done by Abby McIntyre, Teresa Pandolfo, and Kelsey Radwilowicz, 2007.

Processing Information

Between September 2022 and February 2023, Smith College Special Collections renumbered many boxes to eliminate duplicate numbers within collections in order to improve researcher experience. A full crosswalk of old to new numbers is available.

Charity Cannon Willard papers
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  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:18-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2021-07-15: Content description added from accession inventories
  • 2022-03-04: Integrated former Series VII: Oversized Materials into appropriate series

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063