Mildred was the daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke, a scholar and the man who became Edward VI's tutor, and his wife, Anne Fitzwilliam. Cooke educated his daughter himself, at home, providing her with the classical education usually reserved for boys.
Mildred is known not only for being the second wife of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley and Elizabeth I's trusted minister, but for her humanist education, intelligence and fluency in Greek and Latin. Mildred also translated several works, including a Greek sermon by Basil the Great.
Her huge library contained works in Latin, Greek, French and English, covering the subjects of religion, literature, history and medicine. At her death in 1589, on her instruction, many of her books were given to educational institutions, and seventeen of her books are housed today at Hatfield House.
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Image: Portrait of a pregnant Mildred Cecil by Hans Eworth.