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Early Women Writers

Antonia Tanini Pulci



Antonia Tanini Pulci


Florence, Italy


c. 1452-1501


Antonia Pulci was an Italian dramatist. The wife of Bernardo Pulci and later an uncloistered sister, Antonia wrote plays for performance by nuns or confraternities. Antonia Pulci established herself as a prominent playwright by creating several miracle plays, or sacra rappresentazione. A play of this genre is heavily based on a religious story found in the Bible. Typically, these plays are narrated by an angel, who all of the actions of the characters in the story. The angel ends by explaining the lesson to be learned from the tale in an epilogue, called l'angelo che licenzia. Many of the plays that Antonia wrote may never have been performed. There is little to indicate that these plays were performed live in front of an audience. It is possible that these plays were intended to be read, although some of Antonia's more popular plays were acted out in later years.
Antonia married Bernardo di Jacopo Pulci, a well-known literary figure who became an important administrator of the Florentine University. After Antonia’s husband died, she became an ammantellata, a tertiary, or third-order sister, living some of the time at the Dominican convent of San Vincenzo, known as Annalena, and some of the time at her mother's home, which was near Piazza della Signoria. It was then that she hired a young boy from the Cathedral school to teach her Latin. This was Francesco Dolciati, whom she convinced to enter the religious life, and who took the religious name of fra Antonio in her honor. When Antonia received her dowry money from the Pulcis, she bought a house and she founded a house of Augustinian tertiaries called Santa Maria della Misericordia (and sometimes referred to as the Assunta) in 1502. The convent Antonia founded lasted only about thirty years.


Rappresentazione del figliuol prodigo (The Play of the Prodigal Son),
Destruzione di Saul e il pianto di Davit (The Demise of Saul and the Tears of David),
Rappresentazione di Santa Domitilla (The Play of Saint Domitilla),
Rappresentazione di Santa Guglielma (The Play of Saint Guglielma),
Rappresentazione di San Francesco (The Play of Saint Francis),
Rappresentazione di Giuseppe figlio di Giacob (The Play of Joseph, Son of Jacob)


Italian, Latin


Plays, Drama


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edited by Mary R. Reichardt;"
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