Anna Letitia Barbauld: Selected Poetry and Prose

Stoke Newington and the end of a literary career

In 1802, the Barbaulds moved to Stoke Newington where Rochemont took over the pastoral duties of the Chapel at Newington Green. Barbauld herself was happy to be nearer her brother, John, because her husband's mind was rapidly failing.[37] Rochemont developed a "violent antipathy to his wife and he was liable to fits of insane fury directed against her. One day at dinner he seized a knife and chased her round the table so that she only saved herself by jumping out of the window."[38] Such scenes repeated themselves to Barbauld's great sadness and real danger, but she refused to leave him. Rochemont drowned himself in the nearby New River in 1808 and Barbauld was overcome with grief. When Barbauld returned to writing, she produced the radical poem Eighteen Hundred and Eleven (1812) that depicted England as a ruin. It was reviewed so viciously that Barbauld never published another work within her lifetime, although it is now often viewed by scholars as her greatest poetic achievement.[39] Barbauld died in 1825, a renowned writer, and was buried in the family vault in St Mary's, Stoke Newington. After Barbauld's death, a marble tablet was erected in the Newington Green Chapel with the following inscription:

In Memory of ANNA LETITIA BARBAULD, Daughter of John Aikin, D.D. And Wife of The Rev. Rochemont Barbauld, Formerly the Respected Minister of this Congregation. She was born at Kibworth in Leicestershire, 20 June 1743, and died at Stoke Newington, 9 March 1825. Endowed by the Giver of all Good With Wit, Genius, Poetic Talent, and a Vigorous Understanding She Employed these High Gifts in Promoting the Cause of Humanity, Peace, and Justice, of Civil and Religious Liberty, of Pure, Ardent, and Affectionate Devotion. Let the Young, Nurtured by her Writings in the Pure Spirit of Christian Morality; Let those of Maturer Years, Capable of Appreciating the Acuteness, the Brilliant Fancy, and Sound Reasoning of her Literary Compositions; Let the Surviving few who shared her Delightful and Instructive Conversation, Bear Witness That this Monument Records No Exaggerated Praise.[40]

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