The 18th century writer and poet, Anna Laetitia Aikin
, was born on June 20, 1743
, at Kibworth Hall
, to John Aikin
and Jane Jennings Aikin
. Both of her parents were Presbyterian Dissenters
and her father was a Presbyterian minister
's education was conventional and she received most of her instruction from her mother. Eventually Anna convinced her father to teach her some Latin
In 1758 John Aikin moved his family to Warrington where he taught theology at a dissenting academy. This is where Anna first met Joseph Priestley in 1761. Mr. Priestley's work is thought to have inspired Anna's own works. One of Anna's earliest poems was written to Mrs. Priestley, when the Priestleys moved from Warrington to Leeds, in 1767.
Anna's first published work was Essays on Song-Writing, in 1771.
In 1774 Anna married Rochemont Barbauld, a minister at a church in Palgrave, Suffolk. The Barbauld's would have no children of their own, but would adopt Anna's brother's son in 1777.
From some accounts, and Anna's own writings, it appears that the Barbauld's had a very happy marriage. Unfortunately, Barbauld became mentally ill, and eventually violent. In January 1808, he had attacked Anna, grabbing a knife from the dinner table, and chasing her about the room. She escaped him by jumping through a window into the garden. The couple separated in March of 1808, due to concerns for Anna's safety. On November 11, 1808, Barbauld escaped from his keeper to whom he had been committed, and drowned himself in the New River. Anna wrote of her grief and loss, seeking comfort in her religious faith, in her poem Dirge.
Anna Laetitia Aikin Barbaud's writing includes poetry, essays, literary reviews, educational tracts and political works. She was admired by Goldsmith, Coleridge and Wordsworth. Her body of work deserves more attention than it currently receives. She died in 1825.
- Miscellaneous Pieces in Prose. by John Aikin and Anna Barbauld. London: J. Johnson, 1773.
- Poems. by Anna Lætitia Aikin. London: Printed for Joseph Johnson, in St. Paul's Church-Yard,1773.
- Lessons for Children of Two to Three Years Old. London: J. Johnson, 1778.
- Lessons for Children of Three Years Old. London: J. Johnson, 1778.
- Lessons for Children from Three to Four Years Old. London: 1779.
- Lessons for Children (part 3) London: 1787.
- Lessons for Children (part 4) London: 1788.
- Lessons in Prose for Children London: J. Johnson, 1781.
- An Address to the Opposers of the Repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts. 1790.
- Epistle to William Wilberforce, Esq. on the Rejection of the Bill for Abolishing the Slave Trade. London: Printed for J. Johnson , No. 72, St. Paul's Church-Yard, 1791.
- Remarks into Gilbert Wakefield's Enquiry into... Public or Social Worship. 1792.
- The Religion of Nature, a short Discourse ... with a short Address to the Jurymen of Great Britain, by Bob Short. Printed for the Benefit of the Distressed Spital-Field Weavers.... , 1793.
- Sins of Government, Sins of the Nation Printed for J. JOHNSON, No. 72, St. Paul's Church-Yard, 1793.
- Evenings at Home, or the Juvenile Budget Opened. by John Aikin and Anna Barbauld. (six volumes) London: 1792-1796.
- The Correspondence of Samuel Richardson. by Samuel Richardson. (6 vols.) Ed. Anna Lætitia Barbauld, 1804.
- Selections from the Spectator, Tatler, Guardian, and Freeholder with a Preliminary Essay. Ed. Anna Lætitia Barbauld. 1805.
- The British Novelists: with an Essay, and Prefaces, Biographical and Critical. (50 vols.) London: Rivington,1810.
- The Female Speaker: or Miscellaneous Pieces in Prose and Verse, Selected from the Best Writers and Adapted to the Use of Young Women. London: 1811.
- Eighteen Hundred And Eleven, A Poem. London: Printed for J. Johnson & Co., St. Paul's Churchyard., 1812.
- The Works of Anna Lætitia Barbauld, with a Memoir by Lucy Aikin. 2 vols. Ed. Lucy Aikin. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, 1825.
- A Legacy for Young Ladies, Consisting of Miscellaneous Pieces, in Prose and Verse. Ed. Lucy Aikin. London: Longman, 1826.
- Memoir of Mrs. Barbauld by Anna Lætitia LeBreton. London: G. Bell, 1874.
- Anna Lætitia Barbauld: Memoir, Letters, and a Selection from the Poems and Prose Writings. Ed. Grace Ellis. Boston: 1874.
- The Poems of Anna Letitia Barbauld. Eds. William McCarthy and Elizabeth Kraft. Athens & London: The University of Georgia Press, 1994.