Anna Seward was born on December 12, 1747, in Derbyshire, England. Her father, Thomas Seward, was appointed canon of the Lichfield Cathedral, and in 1754 the Seward family moved to Lichfield, Staffordshire, where they lived in the Bishop’s Palace. Growing up, Seward had a close relationship with an adopted sister, Honora Sneyd, who later was the subject of several of her poems.
In Lichfield, Seward became an active member of the Lunar Society, where she gathered with Josiah Wedgewood, Erasmus Darwin, and other local literary and intellectual figures. In 1780 she published Elegy on Captain Cook; To Which Is Added, an Ode to the Sun (J. Dodsley). She went on to publish three additional works of poetry, including Original Sonnets on Various Subjects; and Odes Paraphrased from Horace (G. Sael, 1799), and two works of prose, including Louisa: A Poetical Novel (Abel Morse, 1789).
Seward drew early inspiration from John Milton, Alexander Pope, and William Shakespeare and, though she was a contemporary of the early Romantic poets, is considered a writer of the long eighteenth century. She was often known as the “Swan of Lichfield.”
Seward died in Lichfield on March 25, 1809. She named Sir Walter Scott her literary executor, and he edited the three-volume The Poetical Words of Anna Seward (J. Ballantyne, 1810). A collection of her correspondence was also published in a six-volume edition the following year.
The Poetical Words of Anna Seward (J. Ballantyne, 1810)
Original Sonnets on Various Subjects; and Odes Paraphrased from Horace (G. Sael, 1799)
Ilangollen Vale, with other poems (G. Sael, 1796)
Monody on Major Andrè (J. Jackson, 1781)
Elegy on Captain Cook; To Which Is Added, an Ode to the Sun (J. Dodsley, 1780)
Letters of Anna Seward: Written Between the Years 1784 and 1807 (A. Constable & Co., 1811)
Memoirs of the Life of Dr. Darwin (The Classic Press, 1804)
Louisa: A Poetical Novel (Abel Morse, 1789)