“I mourn their nature, but admire their art”: Anna Seward’s Assertion of Critical Authority in Maturity and Old Age

  • Francesca Blanch Serrat Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Keywords: Anna Seward, Age Studies, James Boswell, Samuel Johnson, Gentleman's Magazine

Abstract

In 1786 an anonymous correspondent appealed to Samuel Johnson’s biographer James Boswell in the pages of the Gentleman’s Magazine. Behind the pseudonym Benvolio was Anna Seward (1742‒1809), one of the prominent poetical voices of Britain at the time. From 1786‒87 and 1793‒94, Seward and Boswell engaged in a public and gradually acrimonious dispute over Johnson’s reputation. This article argues that at the core of the debates was Seward’s assertion of her literary and critical authority, and I contend that age and gender played key roles in Boswell’s dismissal of Seward’s claim.

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Published
02/12/2019
Section
Articles