1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Barbauld, Anna Letitia

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Barbauld, Anna Letitia (1743-1825), English poet and miscellaneous writer, was born at Kibworth-Harcourt, in Leicestershire, on the 20th of June 1743. Her father, the Rev. John Aikin, a Presbyterian minister and schoolmaster, taught his daughter Latin and Greek. In 1758 Mr Aikin removed his family to Warrington, to act as theological tutor in a dissenting academy there. In 1773 Miss Aikin published a volume of Poems, which was very successful, and co-operated with her brother, Dr John Aikin, in a volume of Miscellaneous Pieces in Prose. In 1774 she married Rochemont Barbauld, a member of a French Protestant family settled in England. He had been educated in the academy at Warrington, and was minister of a Presbyterian church at Palgrave, in Suffolk, where, with his wife's help, he established a boarding school. Her admirable Hymns in Prose and Early Lessons were written for their pupils. In 1785 she left England for the continent with her husband, whose health was seriously impaired. On their return about two years later, Mr Barbauld was appointed to a church at Hampstead. In 1802 they removed to Stoke Newington. Mrs Barbauld became well known in London literary circles. She collaborated with Dr Aikin in his Evenings at Home; in 1795 she published an edition of Akenside's Pleasures of Imagination, with a critical essay; two years later she edited Collins's Odes; in 1804 she published a selection of papers from the English Essayists, and a selection from Samuel Richardson's correspondence, with a biographical notice; in 1810 a collection of the British Novelists (50 vols.) with biographical and critical notices; and in 1811 her longest poem, Eighteen Hundred and Eleven, giving a gloomy view of the existing state and future prospects of Britain. This poem anticipated Macaulay in contemplating the prospect of a visitor from the antipodes regarding at a future day the ruins of St Paul's from a broken arch of Blackfriars Bridge. Mrs Barbauld died on the 9th of March 1825; her husband had died in 1808. A collected edition of her works, with memoir, was published by her niece, Lucy Aikin, in 2 vols., 1825.

See[edit]

  • A. L. le Breton, Memoir of Mrs Barbauld (1874).
  • G. A. Ellis, Life and Letters of Mrs A. L. Barbauld (1874).
  • Lady Thackeray Ritchie, A Book of Sibyls (1883).