To one who has read attentively every word of her published letters and all of her poems, Miss Seward appears to have been a woman of high mental endowments, wide but undisciplined reading, sensitive feelings, unbridled enthusiasms, and great sincerity and honesty. One wonders why she did not do better than she did. Her intelligence and ability were greater than her achievement. The taste of the age, parental domination, bad training in her early youth (when she was daily under the influence of Dr. Darwin), lack of organized and symmetrical education, false ideas of what was becoming to a lady, and too much flattery within a limited circle, may be said to account for the failure of Miss Seward to win the high rank in literature to which her native talents might have entitled her. [Margaret Ashmun, 227]

Biographical and Introductory Material

Selected Sonnets

These sonnets were very dear to the author's heart. She was proud of them, because they adhered to a strict form, the Miltonic, which seemed to her the only permissible model. She took great care to make them technically correct, to vary the internal structure by running sentences and phrases from one line to another, and to close with a strong sententious line. She did not always change the thought at the ninth line, but sometimes linked the whole sonnet together, making no special pause for the sestet. On the whole, the sonnets are pleasing and dignified. Taken individually, they seem distinctly praiseworthy, many of them admirably phrased and musically worded. [Margaret Ashmun, 227]

Related material


Ashmun, Margaret. The Singing Swan; an Account of Anna Seward and Her Acquaintance ... . New Haven, Yale University Press, 1931.

Kairoff, Claudia Thomas. Anna Seward and the end of the eighteenth century. Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012.

Seward, Anna. Elegy on Captain Cook. To which is added, an ode to the sun. 2nd. ed. London: J. Dodsley, 1780. '

Seward, Anna. Llangollen Vale, with other poems. London: G. Sael, 1796.

Seward, Anna. Louisa, a poetical novel, in four epistles. New-Haven: Abel Morse, 1789.

Seward, Anna. Memoirs of the life of Dr. Darwin, chiefly during his residence in Lichfield, with anecdotes of his friends, and criticisms on his writings. London: Printed for J. Johnson, 1804. Available online from Hathi Trust.

Seward, Anna. Monody on the unfortunate Major André; who was executed at Tappan, November--, 1780.. New York: T. Allen, 1792.

Seward, Anna. Original Sonnets on Various Subjects and Odes Paraphrased from Horace. London: G. Sael, 1799. Project Gutenberg EBook #27663 produced by Michael Roe and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team, 2008.

Last modified 22 August 2018