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Portrait of Anna Seward, writer and literary critic, 1762

Anthony Cardon

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Credit: Portrait of Anna Seward, writer and literary critic, 1762. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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Stipple engraving portrait of Anna Seward (1747-1809), writer, literary critic and correspondent. (Seward took the maintenance of her very large correspondence as a serious literary pursuit; she once quipped that an unanswered letter resembled ‘an unexpiated sin’ (Letters, 4.30). Among their various themes, Seward's Letters are a rare treasury of grim observations on health. Her circle of friends and correspondents included a variety of celebrated figures of the late eighteenth century. Seward's friendship with Dr Erasmus Darwin started during her adolescence when he was her neighbour, and in 1804, she published Memoirs of the Life of Dr. Darwin, a biography of Darwin's early life in Lichfield (from 1756 to 1781), that reveals her indulgent fondness for his idiosyncratic genius as a doctor, inventor, and writer.)

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