Anna Laetitia Barbauld 1743-1825

 The lifetime of Anna Laetitia Barbauld stands at the hallmark of not only the age of Romanticism, but at the advent of the pursuit of women’s rights and Feminism. While not directly linked to any specific event of women’s rights advancement, no doubt can be taken that her personal philosophy of equality must have inspired many women to realize the same. Her primary influence in the world was that of her literary achievements, where her works are heralded as some of the most eloquent prose writings of the time. The earlier part of her life was spent defining herself as a breakthrough poet among literary circles, and with the publishing of her Poems (1773-1777), she became renowned as a leader in the contemporary world of English literature.

Barbauld’s achievements are not limited to her literary works alone. Her work as a teacher of children is famous, and she is known for having redefined the methodology of teaching children, changes that range from breaking free from some of the bizarre forms of discipline, to initiating a practical study program where a broader range of specialized subjects were included into the curriculum.

 Barbauld possessed a unique way of brandishing her literary skills for not only creative purposes, but for arguments within the political spectrum. Her embolden ideas were often received with shock, not only by the nature of the material, but by the fact they were designed by a woman. The demise of her career as a published author arrived when she pushed her opposition to governmental policy to the limit by publishing a controversial satire pertaining to British involvement in the Napoleonic endeavor. The essence of the piece essentially defines the difference between the psychology of people who are vehemently opposed to war and the state of mind of those who opinionate the need for war, yet further, the piece is sharply negative and pessimistic with regard to the future of England. Meeting with shock on both sides of the political aisle, the negative criticism received in return, ignited and flared her sensitivities enough to cause a self-initiated exile from the world of publishing.  

 By modern day standards her viewpoint would undoubtedly fall into that of the liberal party, with her views on rights for Dissenters and her brute, anti-war attitude pervading the landscape of her thought. The legacy of her career was shadowed by the specter of disdain held by Wordsworth and Coleridge: once fond admirers of her, the growing nature of their conservatism grew to place them at odds with her liberalist point of view. Only within the last twenty years has an introspective examination of Romanticism, and the role of growing Feminism at the time, has her place in history been properly claimed.

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