Robert Lowth and Hannah More

"Reconsidering the Bluestockings" (2003, eds. Pohl & Schellenberg) has an interesting article by Susan Staves on Church of England clergymen and women writers. Robert Lowth was among the friends and correspondents of Bluestocking and philantropist Hannah More. They read each other’s works, and Lowth apparently encouraged More to publish her poem ‘Sensibility’ which was something of a tribute to the "in-crowd" of literary London. It includes a reference to Lowth himself. More writes to her sister in 1781: "Mrs. Kennicott tells me Bishop Lowth insists upon my publishing ‘Sensibility’, and all my other poems together, immediately, that people may have them all together" (p.94). The poem can be found here: http://www.english.upenn.edu/~mgamer/Etexts/more.html

More wrote to her friend Frances Boscawen (another Bluestocking, to whom ‘Sensibility’ was dedicated) apparently in 1782 that she was reading Lowth’s "Isaiah. A New Translation. With Notes", and recommended Lowth’s "De Sacra Poesi" to her "as a treasure": it "has taught me to consider the Divine Book it illustrates under many new and striking points of view; it teaches to appreciate the distinct and characteristic excellence of the sacred poetry and historians, in a manner wonderfully entertaining and instructive" (p.82). Staves notes that an English translation of Praelectiones de Sacra Poesi Hebraeorum came out in 1787, so if the editor William Roberts (1834) dated this letter correctly, More perhaps had access to the English translation before its publication. (More could read Latin, though.) There is no mention of Lowth’s grammar, unfortunately!

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  1. Anni

    Hannah More’s letters were edited in 1925 by R. Brimley Johnson, and William Roberts’ four-volume ‘Memoirs of the Life and Correspondence…’ came out in 1834; they might contain some information about More’s relationship with Lowth. Pohl & Schellenberg (eds. 2003) contains a bibliography of manuscript sources, published works, and secondary sources of Bluestockings; More’s MS letters don’t mention Lowth, but the list includes several collections which don’t specify her correspondents.

  2. ingrid tieken

    This is very interesting indeed! Hannah Moore is the first woman outside Lowth’s own family (his wife, of course, and his sisters, though I have no letters from them, unfortunately) who I now see belonged to his social networks! I wonder if they exchanged any letters.

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