1832 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Hannah Cowley

William Clarke and Robert Shelton Mackenzie, in The Georgian Era: Memoirs of the most eminent Persons who have flourished in Great Britain (1832-34) 3:561.



HANNAH COWLEY was the daughter of Mr. Parkhouse, a bookseller, at Tiverton, in Devonshire, and born there in 1743. She received an excellent education, and, at the age of twenty-five, married a captain in the East India service, of the name of Cowley. It was while sitting with her husband at one of the theatres, some time in 1776, that she first entertained the idea of dramatic writing. Struck with the mediocrity of the play which happened to be acting, she said that she could write as well herself; and, next morning, is said to have sketched the first act of The Runaway. On its completion, it was received with such applause as induced her to continue her labours; and the result was the production of a number of excellent plays; of which The Belle's Stratagem, and Who is the Dupe? which still retain their place on the stage, may be mentioned as the principal. As a poetess, she is favourably known, by her pieces of The Maid of Arragon, The Scottish Village, and The Siege of Acre. She died, highly respected, and after a most exemplary life, on the 11th of March, 1809. Her dramatic and poetical works were published, in three volumes, octavo, in 1813. In her poetry, as in her plays, she displays great ease and liveliness; and she is said to have been the Anna Matilda who so long maintained a celebrated poetical newspaper correspondence with Della Crusca (Mr. Merry).