Hannah Cowley was the daughter of Philip Parkhouse, a Tiverton bookseller. In 1772 she married Thomas Cowley, a writer and clerk in the Stamp Office, who later worked for the East India company before his death in India in 1797. Cowley lived in London, caring for three children and writing some very successful plays. She quarreled with Hannah More and acquired notoriety as "Anna Matilda" in the newspaper verses she exchanged with Robert Merry ("Della Crusca"), censured by William Gifford in the Baeviad and the Maeviad. Cowley's "The Belle's Stratagem" was performed throughout the nineteenth century.
The runaway. 1776.
Who's the dupe? 1779.
Albina. Countess Raimond. 1779.
The maid of Arragon: a tale. 1780.
The Belle's stratagem. 1781.
Which is the man? 1782.
A bold stroke for a husband. 1784.
More ways than one. 1784.
A school for graybeards. 1786.
The Scottish village or Pitcairne Green. 1786.
The fate of Sparta, or the rival kings. 1788.
Poetry of Anna Matilda. 1788.
A day in Turkey: or, the Russian slaves. 1792.
The town before you. 1795.
The siege of Acre: an epic poem. 1801.
Works. 3 vols, 1813.