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Anna Blackwell

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Blackwell, Anna l Miss Blackwell l, misc. writer, spiritualist; sister of Elizabeth BlackwelI, M.D. Born in Bristol; educated by governesses; lived for a time in the U.S., where her father, because of business reverses, took his family in 1832. With two of her sisters, conducted a school for young ladies in Cincinnati, 1838-42. Later lived in Paris. Friend of Bessie Rayner Parkes; one of signers of Barbara Leigh Smith's petition, 1856, for a Married Women's Property Bill (Haight, ed., George Eliot Letters, IV, 377n). Contributed to Once a Week, English Woman's Journal; also to French periodicals. Translated George Sand's Jacques, Elie Sauvage's The Little Gypsy; published Poems, 1853. Had been, she stated, from her cradle "a believer both in the preexistence of the soul and in the fact of spirit-manifestation"; had "the great honour and happiness of being the earliest pioneer of 'Spiritualism' on the Continent" as also "the earliest pioneer of 'Spiritism' in my native England" (Spiritualism and Spiritism). Friend of the spiritualist AIlan Kardec (i.e., Léon H. D. Rivail); translated his writings into English, 1875-78. 

     In her Philosophy of Existence, 1871, Miss BlackweIl demonstrated the universality of the belief in reincarnation by citing passages in support thereof from ancient and modern writings. From Oliver Twist (chap. xxxii), she cited a passage indicating Dickens's awareness of the doctrine: "The memories which peaceful country scenes call up are not of this world, or of its thoughts, or hopes. Their gentle influence may teach us to weave fresh garlands for the graves of those we loved, may purify our thoughts, and bear down before it old enmity and hatred; but, beneath all this, there lingers, in the least reflective mind, a vague and half-formed consciousness of having held such feelings long before, in some remote and distant time .... " 
     "Never Despair" [III, 491-92. Aug. 16, 1851] was reprinted in Harper's, without acknowledgment to H.W.; marked anonymous, it was included in Harper's Cyclopaedia of British and American Poetry, 1881. 

Author: Anne Lohrli; © University of Toronto Press, 1971. 

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