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Amherst, Elizabeth Frances

Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405156691.2011.x


Amherst, Elizabeth Frances (c.1716–1779), poet, probably born near Sevenoaks, Kent, to a family with strong military connections. Much of her verse output, in lively octosyllabics and ballad meters, was probably written before her marriage to a Gloucestershire clergyman, John Thomas, since it was clearly designed to for the entertainment of family and local friends and the main manuscript (in the Bodleian Library) bears the title “The Whims of E. A. afterwards Mrs Thomas.” The poems include a wry self-portrait, “A Prize Riddle Upon Herself When 24,” in which she offers herself to potential suitors. After her marriage she lived in the Cotswolds. She had a strong interest in the study of fossils and corresponded with experts in the field. In 1761 she sent to William *Shenstone an unsigned poem about his garden, the Leasowes, which appeared in a magazine in 1762. In that year she published, again anonymously, A Dramatic Pastoral. By a Lady , prompted by the coronation of George III and intended to sponsor a charitable collection. A few other fragments found their way into print before her death, at Newbold, Warwickshire, in May 1779, but as a poet she was virtually unknown until a selection was published by Roger Lonsdale in his Eighteenth-Century Women Poets: An Oxford Anthology (1989). ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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