When eleven-year-old Lavinia Guasca began her new life as a lady-in-waiting at the court of Turin, she brought with her a parting gift from her father Annibal (1540-1619): a detailed guidebook he wrote to help steer her through the many pitfalls of court life. Lavinia had her father's Discourse published in 1586; this English translation is the first version published in any form since that time.
The Discourse displays an incredibly far-sighted view of women's education. Annibal thought gifted young girls should develop their talents and apply them to careers outside the home. In the Discourse, he details the unique and extremely rigorous educational program to which he had subjected Lavinia almost from the cradle with this end in mind. To complete Lavinia's education, Annibal filled the Discourse with advice on spirituality and morality, health and beauty, and how to behave at court—everything a well-bred lady-in-waiting would need to know. This edition also includes an appendix that traces the later events of Lavinia's life through excerpts from her father's letters.