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Hannah Lawrance

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Published : 4 Articles
Pen Names : None
Date of Birth : N/A
Death : 20/11/1875
Views : 1764

Author. Reviewed historical works for Athenaeum. Listed in Wellesley Index as the probable author of "The Anglo-Norman Trouveres", Blackwood's, 1836. Was obviously the "Miss Lawrence" whose name was announced in an advertisement as one of contributors to Hood's Magazine (Memorials of Thomas Hood, II, 185). Author of Historical Memoirs of the Queens of England, from the Commencement of the Twelfth Century, 1838-40, and of The History of Woman in England, and Her Influence on Society and Literature, 1843. Would seem to be author also of London in the Olden Time; or, Tales Intended to Illustrate the Manners and Superstitions of Its Inhabitants, from the Twelfth to the Sixteenth Century, 1825-27, anon. (attributed in HaIkett and Laing, Dictionary of Anonymous and Pseudonymous English Literature (1926-1934) to "Miss H. Laurence"). Surmised by Elizabeth Barrett to be a "deeper-minded woman" than Agnes Strickland "and qualified to take, in literature, the higher place" (Letters ... to Richard Hengist Horne, I, 210).


In a letter of April 19 1854, Dickens wrote: "Mr Charles Dickens presents his compliments to Miss Lawrence, and begs to say he will be happy to read the papers Miss Lawrence has by her, if she will have the kindness to forward them for his perusal. He thinks the idea Miss Lawrence describes, a very suitable one for Household Words; but of course the manner of its execution is important" (typescript Huntington Library).

In the month following the date of Dickens's letter, appeared in H.W. the first item that the Office Book assigns to "Miss Laurence", the other four items appearing within the course of the following year. Based on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century books, newspapers, pamphlets, and MSS, the articles depict English social and literary life of the time. References to such comparatively obscure writers as Thomas Coryate and Elkanah Settle indicate the author's thorough familiarity with the writing of the time.

Hannah Lawrance's scholarly Historical Memoirs of the Queens of England and History of Woman in England depict much of English social history to the end of the Middle Ages; the two books are based largely on contemporary sources—"those voluminous and often rare works, which, although well known to the historian and the antiquary, are for the most part inaccessible to the general reader" ("Preface", Historical Memoirs). Her prose contributions to Hood's Magazine (signed "H.L." are historical tales set in various periods of English history; in some, the story element is little more than a framework providing the author the opportunity to picture manners and customs of the past.

The similarity of detail and phraseology in Miss Lawrance's tale "Old Mr. Fleming's Journey", Hood's Magazine, October 1844, and in the H.W. article "An Excursion Train" (from a 1748 MS diary) makes it evident that the contributor to the two periodicals is the same writer. "Old Mr. Fleming's Journey", for instance, states that "a journey, one hundred years ago, was something to be talked of, to be thought about, to be deliberated upon"; "An Excursion Train" states that with "our great grandfathers" a journey "was an event to be talked about for the rest of the. year". Both mention the stage-coaches "Wonder" and "Dispatch", and the gentleman traveller's taking along his scarlet rocquelaure. Both refer to Senex's road guide: In "Old Mr. Fleming's Journey", Mr. Fleming pulls out "his road-book, 'Ogilby's Survey, reduced to a size portable for the pocket, by John Senex', which he had purchased at the Black Horse, in Cornhill, for this very journey"; in "An Excursion Train", two of the travellers consult en route "The Roads through England Delineated, revised, improved, and reduced to a size portable for the pocket, by John Senex' ... purchased for this very journey at the Black Horse in CornhilI".

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


Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

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