Anna Seward Poems (1781-[1793])

Collection processed and finding aid created by Kate Silbert, May 2012
Manuscripts Division, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

Summary Information

Title: Anna Seward Poems
Creator: Seward, Anna, 1742-1809
Inclusive dates: 1781-[1793]
Extent: 4 items
This collection consists of six manuscript poems written by Anna Seward (1742-1809), including a copy of Monody on Major André, which was published in 1781.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use

Acquisition Information

1937, 1952. M-342, M-918.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.


The William L. Clements Library manuscript copy of Monody on Major André appears to have come from the Tomlinson Collection. This body of 3,000 papers relating to the American Revolution, particularly Benedict Arnold and John André, was purchased by the Mercantile Library Association in 1860 but later dispersed. The William L. Clements Library holds a copy of the broadside that advertised the sale. See letter from Herbert E. Shufro, librarian of the Mercantile Library Association of New York, dated Aug. 21, 1972, included with the broadside.

Preferred Citation

Anna Seward Poems, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged chronologically.


Anna Seward (1742-1809), often referred to as the "Swan of Lichfield," earned acclaim as a poetess and writer in late-18th-century Great Britain. The daughter of an Anglican minister, Thomas Seward (1708-1790), she grew up in Lichfield, England. Under her father's guidance, she read widely in English literature, and his own literary pursuits brought her into the company of many famous authors of the day, including Erasmus Darwin, Thomas Day, and Richard Lovell Edgeworth. Seward never married and spent most of her adult life in Lichfield, caring for her ailing parent and managing family finances as well as writing extensively and corresponding broadly in poetry and prose. Her major works include Elegy on Captain Cook (1780), Monody on Major André (1781), Louisa: a Poetical Novel, in Four Epistles (1784), Memoirs of the Life of Dr. Darwin (1804), and several volumes of verse.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of two volumes that contain six manuscript poems written by Anna Seward (1742-1809). The first volume includes a 21-page copy of Monody on Major André, which was published in 1781, as well as an untitled 6-line poem in French on the follies of young women. Major John André, about whom she composed her Monody, had courted one of Seward's close friends and went on to be accused and executed by the Americans as a spy during the Revolutionary War. The pieces in the second volume include 8 pages of "Verses by Miss Seward, on receving [sic] Mr Hayley's Picture drawn for her by Mr. Romney," signed by Seward and dated Litchfield, November 7, 1781; a 12-line "Epitaph On Anne Whately who died May 1793 aged ten years"; and two undated sonnets.

William Hayley was an English poet who briefly courted Seward and with whom she corresponded throughout her adult life. The William L. Clements Library holds prints of the George Romney portrait to which her poem refers. Anne Whately has not been identified.

Subject Terms

  • André, John, 1751-1780--Poetry.
  • Death--Poetry.
  • English poetry--18th century.
  • Hayley, William, 1745-1820.
  • Lichfield (England)
  • Poetry--Women authors.
  • Romney, George, 1734-1802.
  • Whately, Anne, d. 1793.
Genre Terms:
  • Poems.

Contents List (Request Materials)

Request materials for use in the Clements Library
Container / Location Title
Anna Seward Poems [series]
Volume   1  
Monody on Major André
Volume   2 Folder   1
"Verses,"  1781
Volume   2 Folder   2
"An Epitaph,"  [1793]
Volume   2 Folder   3
Two sonnets,  undated

Additional Descriptive Data

Related Materials

The William L. Clements Library holds multiple 18th-century editions of Seward's Monody on Major André; Louisa, a Poetical Novel; Elegy on Captain Cooke; and other works. The William L. Clements Library also holds multiple portrait prints of Anna Seward.

The Tomlinson Collection Consists of About Three Thousand Manuscripts, Most of Which Have Never Been Published...The Collection Comprises: Valuable Papers Pertaining to New York City...Several Valuable Papers Relating to Arnold and Andre Including...Views of West Point and of the Robinson House Occupied by Arnold, Together with the Original Ms. of the Monody on the Death of Major Andre, by Miss Seward... [n.p., 1860?].


Sylvia Bowerbank, "Seward, Anna (1742–1809)," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2004.