Anna Seward’s Life of Erasmus Darwin – Philip Wilson



In 1804, at a time of industrial, political and intellectual ferment, Anna Seward (1742-1809) published the first biography of “Erasmus Darwin” (1731-1802). Darwin, Charles Darwin’s grandfather, was one of Britain’s foremost physicians, scientists, poets and observers of nature. Anna Seward was a leading poet, critic and commentator. Both flourished in the effervescent cultural landscape of the late-eighteenth century and made Lichfield a provincial centre for intellectual activity. Throughout her biography, Seward describes encounters with influential figures, including members of the Lunar Society, and explores Darwin’s scientific and literary creativity. But her biography is more than a commentary on others: it reveals her complex relationship with Darwin, her love of poetry and the natural landscape, and the personality, challenges and aspirations of an intelligent, passionate and independent woman writer of the early Romantic period. Through an introductory essay and comments on the text, the editors provide a framework in which to understand Seward, Darwin and their times.

240 x 170mm
324pp Hardback
ISBN 978-1-85858-452-2