Anna Laetitia Barbauld
Anna Laetitia Barbauld was a prominent English poet, essayist, literary critic, editor, and author of children’s literature. Her anthology of 18th-century novels helped to establish the canon as it is known today. Her career as a poet ended abruptly in 1812, with the publication of Eighteen Hundred and Eleven.
About Anna Laetitia Barbauld in brief
Anna Laetitia Barbauld was a prominent English poet, essayist, literary critic, editor, and author of children’s literature. Barbauld had a successful writing career at a time when women rarely wrote professionally. Her anthology of 18th-century novels helped to establish the canon as it is known today. Her career as a poet ended abruptly in 1812, with the publication of Eighteen Hundred and Eleven, which criticised Britain’s participation in the Napoleonic Wars. She was shocked by the vicious reviews it received and published nothing else in her lifetime. Her reputation was further damaged when many of the Romantic poets she had inspired in the heyday of the French Revolution turned against her in their later, more conservative years. Her essays showed it was possible for a woman to be publicly engaged in politics; other women authors such as Elizabeth Benger emulated her. Much of what is known about Barbauld’s life comes from two memoirs, the first published in 1825 and written by her niece, Lucy Aikin, and the second published by her great-niece Anna Letitia Le Breton. However, a great many Barbauld family documents were lost in a fire that resulted from the London blitz in 1940. She spent her childhood in what Barbauld scholar William McCarthy describes as \”one of the best houses in Kibworth and in the very middle of the village square. She was much in the public eye, as the house was also a boys’ school.
She had the opportunity to learn not only Latin and Greek, but French, Italian, and many other subjects generally deemed unnecessary for women at the time. The two were so close as close as her mother expected her to end up a spinster because of her intellectualism. Yet her father was proud of her accomplishments and in later years wrote of her daughter as a little girl who was eager to learn as her instructors could be to teach her, without command of the English language. Her brother described their father as the best counsellor, the wisest and most affectionate, that I never knew another, and I shall never believe such affection, but never believe that I ever knew such a person as John Barbauld, the best friend that I have ever had. At her death in 1780, his estate was valued at more than £2,500. At the time, his family had a comfortable standard of living, with large freeholders, well-to-do tradesmen, and manufacturers, and they may have ranked with largeFreeholders, freeholders and freeholders. Barbauld commented to her husband in 1773: ‘For the early part of my life I conversed little with my own Sex. In the Village where I was, there was none to converse with.’ She was remembered only as a pedantic children’s writer in the 19th century, and largely forgotten in the 20th, until the rise of feminist literary criticism in the 1980s renewed interest in her works.