Addison Ellis Drake
Addison Ellis Drake (1638-1701) was an influential writer and theologian in the Colonial-era Federal States of Archanta, and was one of the founders of the colony of Culpepper. Her writings on the nature of the soul and the role of the congregation in governing the church are still central to doctrine in the Egalitarian Church, a denomination found mostly in Culpepper and the surrounding region. Her poetry is regarded as some of the earliest examples of a distinct Archantan style.
Drake was born Addison Marie Ellis in Winburgh, Ingerland, to the religious leader Elijah Ellis and his wife, Charity Fenton Ellis. She accompanied her father to South Archanta with his congregation and several other groups of religious dissenters in 1661, and in 1662 she was present at the founding of the city of Divinity's Grace by her father and fellow religious leader Alexandre Williams. In 1664 she married Captain David Drake. They had no children. However, in 1669 Captain Drake would be lost at sea while commanding a supply expedition back to Ingerland. Addison Drake would not remarry, and devoted the rest of her life to the study of letters and theology.
Drake was one of the first students at the school for Egalitarian ministers her father founded in 1674 in Divinity's Grace, which was originally named Grace College. Upon the death of Elijah Ellis the college would become Ellis College, later Ellis University--one of the most well-respected institutions of higher education in the world. Drake was the only female student, and it was said she was "in bearing and in speech, very like a clerke and not a wyfe," according to her contemporary Olmstead Regent. She would be the only woman to attend the university until it officially became co-educational in 1969. She completed the necessary coursework in 1673 but was never ordained as a minister because of her sex.
In 1678 Drake began work on a book of religious theory called Thoughts on Grace and Egality, which had to do with the concept of grace and its conflict with the unforgiving nature of God. The book was published in 1682, under the pen name "A.E.Draco." However, it was well-known that Drake was the author, and she often lectured on religious theory at her home. She later published many essays and letters on the subject, and was often consulted by ministers and other faith leaders. Her work formed the basis of major strains of Egalitarian thought and theology for the next two hundred years.
Drake's poetry was all but unknown during her lifetime; she only published a single poem, "The Canticle," in 1698. After her death her nephew Roger Drake discovered her poems and eventually published them as a single volume titled Poetic Verses of the Scholaress Addisson Drake, Late of Divinity's Grace in the Colony of Culpepper in 1721. Many of her poems have religious themes, but the ones most well-known today had to do with the natural world. In this Drake was ahead of her time, as describing nature in poetry was rarely done and thought of as lesser during her lifetime.
A fine example of this is her poem "The Lady of Silver," which describes the Scantuck River. The end of the poem reads:
Rustle and rage you deepest unknowing mother
Drain your sorrows into the glass of time.
Her poetry was the first example of what would eventually be known as a distinctive Archantan fascination with and fear of nature.
Later Years and Death
Drake withdrew from society in her later years and had a house built for her on the hill across from the city of Divinity's Grace. She lived simply there with her close personal friend the widow Anne Everett Durant. She fell ill with consumption in late 1700, and died the following March.
Drake's poetry is widely read today, and her theological work is studied by scholars at Ellis University and elsewhere. The hill upon which her house stood is now known as Drake's Rock. There is a statue of Drake in the central green of Divinity's Grace, which is named after her. In the 1970s and 1980s interest in her was revived, as her independent life and attendance at Ellis University made her a feminist icon.
There has been much speculation by scholars that Drake was bisexual or lesbian. Her friendship with Anne Everett Durant was said to be like that of husband and wife, and in her later years the two were inseparable. Drake was known to refer to herself as "Mrs. Durant" from time to time. Durant kept some of their correspondence, which was rediscovered and published in the 1990s. The letters are quite intimate, though differences in language usage mean that the exact nature of their relationship is still unclear.
Nevertheless, Drake's statue is festooned in rainbow ribbons and flags during Divinity's Grace's large LGBTQ Pride celebration.