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Short poem

Selected Poetry of Anna Lætitia Barbauld (1743-1825)

from Representative Poetry On-line
Prepared by members of the Department of English at the University of Toronto
from 1912 to the present and published by the University of Toronto Press from 1912 to 1967.
RPO Edited by Ian Lancashire
A UTEL (University of Toronto English Library) Edition
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries
© 2005, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto

Image of Anna Lætitia Barbauld

Index to poems

    We'll little care what others do,
    And where they go, and what they say;
    Our bliss, all inward and our own,
Would only tarnished be, by being shown.
        (To Mr. Barbauld, November 14, 1778)
  1. The Caterpillar
  2. Dirge: Written November 1808
  3. An Inventory of the Furniture in Dr. Priestley's Study
  4. The Rights of Women
  5. A Thought on Death: November, 1814
  6. To a Little Invisible Being Who is Expected Soon to Become Visible
  7. To Mr. Barbauld, November 14, 1778
  8. To Mrs. P********, with some Drawings of Birds and Insects

Notes on Life and Works

Born in Kibworth, Leicestershire, Anna Letitia Aitkin was educated at home by her mother, Jane Jennings. Her father became tutor in divinity at a new Presbyterian school at Warrington, Lancashire, where 15-year-old Anna became friends with Joseph Priestley and his wife when he moved there as tutor in languages in 1761. In 1772 Anna published her Poems (3rd edn., London: Joseph Johnson, 1773; B-12 0448 Fisher Library) and she married Rochemont Barbauld, a Warrington student, two years later and for the next ten years devoted herself to child-raising and joint management, with her husband, of Palgrave School in Suffolk. She published three volumes of Lessons for Children 1778-79 and Hymns in Prose for Children in 1781 (reprinted New York: Garland, 1977; PR 4057 B7H9). They then moved to Hampstead, Rochemont working as a minister, Anna as a political essayist and poet. She is well known for her attack on the slave trade in the Epistle to William Wilberforce (1791). In 1802 they moved to Stoke Newington, a London suburb where she earned a living by editing and he cared for a small congregation. Suffering from mental illness, Rochemont attacked Anna in 1808, he was institutionalized and drowned himself late that year. Her last publication was the anti-war poem "Eighteen Hundred and Eleven" (1811). Her niece Lucy Aitkin edited and published Anna's Works a few months after her death. Walter Sidney Scott has edited her letters with those of Maria Edgeworth (London: Golden Cockerel Press, 1953; PR 4646 A4 1953). The standard life is Betsy Rodgers' Georgian Chronicle: Mrs. Barbauld & her Family (London: Methuen, 1958; PR 4057 B7Z8; all Robarts Library).

Biographical information

Given name: Anna Lætitia
Family name: Barbauld
Maiden name: Aikin
Birth date: 20 June 1743
Death date: 9 March 1825
Nationality: English
Family relations
          father: John Aikin
          mother: Jane Jennings
          husband: Rochemont Barbauld (from 1774)
Education: Domestic Education
Religion: Presbyterian
Literary period: Romantic
          Kibworth, Leicestershire, England: 1743 to 1758
          Warrington, England: 1758 to 1773
          Palgrave, Suffolk, England: 1774 to 1785
          Hampstead, England: 1786 to 1802
          Stoke Newington, England: 1802 to 1825
Cause of death: asthma
Buried at: St Mary's churchyard, Stoke Newington
First RPO edition: 1997