Godwin, Catherine Grace (DNB00)

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GODWIN, Mrs. CATHERINE GRACE (1798–1845), poetess, younger daughter of Thomas Garnett, M.D. [q. v.], was born at Glasgow 25 Dec. 1798. Her mother died at her birth, and after the premature death of her father in 1802 she, with her sister, was brought up by her mother's intimate friend, Miss Worboys. They resided at Barbon, near Kirkby Lonsdale in Westmoreland, where Catherine continued to live after her marriage in 1824 to Thomas Godwin, formerly of the East India Company's service. She had already published ‘The Night before the Bridal, and other poems,’ to which ‘The Wanderer's Legacy’ succeeded in 1829. This volume attracted the favourable notice of Wordsworth, who honoured the authoress with exceptional attention and praise. His letter to her, printed by her biographer, conveys his opinion of the Spenserian stanza in Byron's hands, and of what he considered the corruption of the English language from the popularity of Scott's poems and novels. Mrs. Godwin's poems will hardly be thought to justify his high opinion. They indicate a highly refined and sensitive nature, but have more fluency than force, and in general merely reflect the style of Byron, of Wordsworth, or of Mrs. Hemans. After the death of her sister in 1832 Mrs. Godwin's health declined, and she wrote little more, except fugitive poems in albums and stories for the young. A volume of letters from the continent was published after her death, which took place in May 1845, after long suffering from spinal irritation. Her poetical works were collected and published in a handsome illustrated volume in 1854, with a memoir by A. Cleveland Wigan. She is described as persevering, discriminating, and endowed with a keen sense of the ludicrous. She had acquired considerable proficiency in painting; the portrait prefixed to her poems is from a miniature by herself.

[Memoir, by A. Cleveland Wigan, prefixed to the Poetical Works of Catherine Grace Godwin, 1854.]

R. G.