Dubbed the "Swan of Lichfield," Anna Seward was eldest daughter of Thomas Seward, canon residentiary of Lichfield Cathedral. Encouraged to write by Erasmus Darwin, Seward became one of the best known English women poets of her time. She also published in the Gentleman's Magazine, sometimes under the pseudonym "Benvolio," and engaged in debates with other critics. (Picture: Anna Seward, Tilly Kettle, 1762)
Widely connected to writers and clergy, Seward lived her entire life at Lichfield and never married. She seems to have been liked and admired for her liveliness and generosity though criticized for self-importance, outspokenness, and unconventionality. (P: ©James Hopwood Sr. (1745 or 1754-1819). Serena Reading (called Honora Edgeworth (née Sneyd)), published 1 October 1811 (©4)
Although most of Seward's intense attachments were to women, scholars have focused on her deep involvement with John Saville, vicar choral at Lichfield and a renowned vocalist who was separated from his wife. Their relationship subjected them to censure though Seward insisted it was "pure and disinterested." She was grief-stricken by Saville's sudden death in 1803.
Biographers have also noted Seward's passion for her foster sister Honora Sneyd, who came to live in the Seward household at the age of five when Anna was thirteen. After the death of Anna's sister Sarah in 1763, Honora became her closest companion, and the attachment grew more intense. Seward expressed her passionate devotion through her involvement in Honora's romantic life as well as in poetry dedicated to her.( Collapse )
Author: Urquilla, Marian ; Lanser, Susan S.
Entry Title: Seward, Anna
General Editor: Claude J. Summers
Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture
Publication Date: 2002
Date Last Updated July 11, 2011
Web Address www.glbtq.com/literature/seward_a.html
Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL 60607
Today's Date March 25, 2013
Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.
Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
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