Claire Harman

A Dissenting Voice

Anna Letitia Barbauld: Voice of the Enlightenment


Johns Hopkins University Press 726pp £32 order from our bookshop

If Anna Letitia Barbauld’s was a voice of the Enlightenment, it hasn’t, until now, carried very far. Known in her own time as a poet and controversial essayist, her fame in the fifty years after her death rested almost entirely on fond memories of her reading schemes for very small children. She struggled through to the twenty-first century with a handful of anthology pieces (‘The Mouse’s Petition’, ‘Washing-Day’, Eighteen Hundred and Eleven) and a reputation for worthiness: not the stuff to attract a wide readership.

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