Leapor, Mary (DNB00)

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LEAPOR, MARY (1722–1746), poet, was born at Marston St. Lawrence, Northamptonshire, 26 Feb. 1722. Her father was gardener to Judge Blencowe. She had little education, and is said to have been cook-maid in a gentleman's family. From childhood she delighted in reading, acquired a few books, including the works of Dryden and Pope, and at an early age composed verses, chiefly in imitation of Pope. These came to the notice of some persons of rank, who resolved to publish them by subscription. The prospectus is said to have been drawn up by Garrick. Before the arrangements were completed Miss Leapor died of measles, aged 24, at Brackley, Northamptonshire, 12 Nov. 1746. Her 'Poems on Several Occasions,' edited by Isaac Hawkins Browne the elder [q. v.], were published in two volumes, the first appearing in 1748, and the second in 1751. An 'Essay on Friendship' and an 'Essay on Hope,' both in heroic couplets, illustrate her devotion to Pope. The second volume includes a few letters, written chiefly to her literary patrons, a tragedy in blank verse called 'The Unhappy Father,' and some acts of another dramatic piece. A selection from her poems appears in Mrs. Barber's 'Poems by Eminent Ladies,' 1766. The poet Cowper admired her work.

[Chalmers's Biog. Dict. xx. 110-11; Biographia Dramatica; Preface to Poems on Several Occasions.]

E. L.