Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hunter, Anne

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HUNTER, ANNE (1742–1821), poetess, eldest daughter of Robert Home, surgeon, and sister of Sir Everard Home [q. v.], married in July 1771 John Hunter [q. v.] the great surgeon. Before her marriage she had gained some note as a lyrical poetess, her 'Flower of the Forest' appearing in 'The Lark,' an Edinburgh periodical, in 1765. Her social literary parties were among the most enjoyable of her time, though not always to her husband's taste. Elizabeth Carter and Miss Delany were her attached friends, and Haydn set a number of her songs to music, including 'My Mother bids me bind my Hair,' originally written to an air of Pleydell's. On her husband's death in 1793, Mrs. Hunter was left ill provided for, and for some time she was indebted for a maintenance partly to the queen's bounty and to the generosity of Dr. Garthshore (1732-1812), and partly to the sale of her husband's furniture, library, and curiosities (Ottley, Life of Hunter, pp. 137-9). In 1799 parliament voted 15,000l. for the Hunterian museum, which placed Mrs. Hunter in fair circumstances. She had four children, of whom two, a son and a daughter (wife of Sir James Campbell), survived her. She lived in retirement in London till her death on 7 Jan. 1821. Her poems (12mo, London, 1802; 2nd edition, 1803) show no depth of thought, but have a natural feeling and simplicity of expression, which make many of them worth reading (see British Critic, October 1802, xx. 409-13). Her 'Sports of the Genii,' written in 1797 to a set of graceful drawings by Miss Susan Macdonald (d. 1803), eldest daughter of Lord-chief-baron Macdonald, display in addition humour and fancy.

[Gent. Mag. 1821, vol. xci. pt. i. pp. 89, 90; also in Nichols's Lit. Illustr. vii. 638, by Archdeacon R. Nares; Lives of John Hunter; Charles Rogers's Modern Scottish Minstrel, 1855, i. 39, 40.]

G. T. B.