Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Duncombe, Susanna

DUNCOMBE, SUSANNA (1730?–1812), poetess and artist, only daughter of Joseph Highmore, the painter, and illustrator of ‘Pamela,’ was born about 1730, probably in London, either in the city or Lincoln's Inn Fields. She was one of a party to whom Richardson read his ‘Sir Charles Grandison;’ and she made a sketch of the scene, which forms the frontispiece to vol. ii. of Mrs. Barbauld's ‘Correspondence of Samuel Richardson.’ She contributed the story of ‘Fidelio and Honoria’ to ‘The Adventurer;’ was eulogised by John Duncombe [q. v.] as Eugenia in his ‘Feminead,’ 1754; and, after a protracted courtship, they were married on 20 April 1763, and went to his living in Kent, taking her father with them. In 1773 she furnished a frontispiece to vol. i. of her husband's ‘Letters by John Hughes;’ she also wrote a few poems in the ‘Poetical Calendar,’ and in 1782 some of her poems appeared in Nichols's ‘Select Collection.’ In January 1786 she was left a widow, with one child, a daughter, and took up her residence in the Precincts, Canterbury. In 1808 her portrait of Mrs. Chapone was transferred from her ‘Grandison’ frontispiece to the second edition of ‘Mrs. Chapone's Posthumous Works.’ She died on 28 Oct. 1812, aged about eighty-two, and was buried with her husband at St. Mary Bredman, Canterbury.

[Bryan's Dict. of Painters; Chalmers's Biog. Dict.; Gent. Mag. lxxxii. ii. 497.]

J. H.