22 April 2009
Dorothy May Final
DOROTHY BRADFORD COMES TO AMERICA
Japanese woodblock (moku hanga)
Paper size: 22" x 9.5" (55.9 x 24 cm)
Image size: 20" x 8" (50.8 x 20.3 cm)
7 shina plywood blocks
15 hand-rubbed impressions
Paper: Echizen Kozo
As is true about most women of the colonial period, we know very little about Dorothy May Bradford. Born in Cambridge England in about 1597, she married 23-year-old William Bradford when she was 16 and moved with him to Leiden, Holland. They had a son John a few years later, a son who they left behind when they boarded the Mayflower for America in 1620.
The Mayflower anchored off Provincetown Harbor on November 11, and several expeditions of men set out to seek a place to build their Colony. William Bradford never wrote about Dorothy's death, but Cotton Mather noted that while William was away on one of these explorations, on 7 December 1620, Dorothy accidentally fell off the Mayflower into the freezing waters of Provincetown Harbor and drowned.
Some historians have speculated that Dorothy committed suicide. We will never know, but we do know that she had many reasons to despair -- she was separated from her infant son, winter was upon them, they were confined to the ship even though land was tantalizingly near, there was a constant fear of the unknown including the Indian presence, and the passengers were beginning to get sick and die. Perhaps all of this became too frightening to bear.
This print is dedicated to the memory of Dorothy May Bradford, 1597-1620.