Felicia Dorothea Hemans, 1793–1835

[Mentioned in Retrospection and Introspection, p. 9, and Miscellany, p. 185]

Felicia Hemans was fourteen when her first poems were published and severely criticized. But in 1819 she won a prize for a poem commemorating the meeting of William Wallace with Robert Bruce on the banks of the Carron. Two years later she won the prize given by the Royal Society of Literature for a poem on Dartmoor.

Mrs. Hemans was born in Liverpool, but her family moved to Wales when she was a child. Although she later lived near Liverpool and in her last years in Dublin near her brother, she loved Wales most. In spite of her secluded life, her poems were widely known both in Britain and in the United States. She was even offered an editorship of a magazine published in Boston, but she declined it.

While she has been reproached for not being more selective in what she published, Mrs. Hemans was not without critical ability, saying of one of her works that "it seemed all done in pale water-colours." Sir Walter Scott was her loyal friend, although he declared that her poems had "too many flowers" and "too little fruit." Wordsworth too was very fond of her and said that among his acquaintances she had no equal "in quickness of mind."

Enjoy 1 free Sentinel article or audio program each month, including content from 1898 to today.

Signs of the Times
January 26, 1957

We'd love to hear from you!

Easily submit your testimonies, articles, and poems online.