Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)AS
TitleAnna Seward Letters
Extent22 items
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AS Anna Seward Letters\AS_23_T.jpg

DescriptionA small collection of letters from Anna Seward to Colonel Thomas Dowdeswell and Mrs Dowdeswell of Shrewsbury and Tewkesbury 1791-1804, together with miscellaneous letters including two from her parents 1764, and others from her including a contemporary transcript of a letter to Helen Williams, the author, in Paris 1793. The contents of the letters reveal Seward's thoughts and comments on society in Lichfield, the British Government and its management of the Napoleonic wars, and information about her personal life and her writings.
Access ConditionsAccess to all registered researchers
Finding AidsA catalogue of this collection is available on the online archive catalogue. Click on the Finding Number to display the summary contents list of the catalogue and to view the full catalogue, or view the catalogue as a PDF file by clicking in the document field below. A paper copy of this catalogue is also available for consultation at Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections.
Access StatusOpen
Physical DescriptionLetters bound together in one volume, the arrangement does not reflect the order of the reference numbering of the sequence.
Administrative HistoryAnne, or Anna Seward (1742-1809), the 'Swan of Lichfield', poet and letter writer, was born in Eyam, Derbyshire. She was the only surviving child of Rev Thomas S. Seward (also a poet and Canon of Lichfield from 1754) and his wife, Elizabeth (nee Hunter). In 1780, she drew public notice with elegiac poems on David Garrick and Captain Cook and these were followed by a poem in 1781 about Major Andre (a former suitor of Honora Sneyd who subsequently married Maria Edgeworth's father) and another one in 1782 about Anne Miller. Other publications included her verse novel 'Louisa' (1784), a poem on her friends the Ladies of Llangollen in 1796, her sonnets in 1799, and Memoirs of Erasmus Darwin in 1804. The 'Gentleman's Magazine' also published her versions of Horace's odes and controversial letters - published under the pseudonym 'Benvolio', 1786-87 and then under her own name. She had extensive literary friendships who included Erasmus Darwin and Thomas Day. She left her literary manuscripts to Sir Walter Scott who edited her collected works which were published in three volumes with a memoir in 1810.
Reference: Aristocratic Women: the social, political and cultural history of rich and powerful women. A Listing and Guide to Part 2 of the Microfilm Collection (Adam Matthew Publications, 1998)
AcquisitionThe letters to Dowdeswell were purchased in 1968; other letters were purchased in 1971 and 1974 and added to the collection
CopiesAvailable on microfilm and online.

In 1998, the Anna Seward Letters were micropublished by Adam Matthew Publications as part of their micropublication, 'Aristocratic Women: the social, political and cultural history of rich and powerful women'. A set of the microfilm is available in Cadbury Research Library for use on site by all registered researchers.

The microfilm has since been digitally published by Adam Matthew Digital Ltd so the collection can also be seen online by members of, and visitors to, the Cadbury Research Library and other institutions that subscribe to 'Research Source - Women's Studies'.

All visitors who have registered for a Cadbury Research Library Reader ticket can access the online copies on the public access computers in the Cadbury Research Library Reading Room.

Staff and students of the University of Birmingham may also access the products when off campus through the University’s eResources. Log in through FindIt@Bham, select Database Search and enter ‘Women’s Studies’.

For institutions that do not currently subscribe to this Adam Matthew Digital product, free four-week trials of Adam Matthew Digital products are open to teachers, faculty and librarians of universities, colleges, and academic institutions. Further information about trial access is available at

High quality TIFF copy on staff R drive (AS/1-23).
Related MaterialCadbury Research Library: Special Collections also holds a letter written by Seward's close Lichfield friend John Saville (ref. LAdd/3504)
Associated MaterialsLetters and literary papers written by Anna Seward can be found in a variety of respositories including the British Library, John Rylands Library, Manchester, Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum, Lichfield, and many other centres.


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