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The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Hemans, Felicia Dorothea Browne

HEMANS, Felicia Dorothea Browne, English poet: b. Liverpool, 25 Sept 1793; d. near Dublin, Ireland, 16 May 1835. She displayed the bent of her genius when a mere child, and wrote some tolerable poetry in her ninth year. She first appeared as an author, in 1808, in a volume entitled ‘Early Blossoms,’ but it was subjected to harsh criticism, which she took very seriously to heart. A second volume, published in 1812, ‘The Domestic Affections,’ was much more successful. The same year she married Captain Hemans, from whom she was separated in 1818. She then resumed her literary pursuits, made herself acquainted with Latin and modern languages and wrote much in the periodicals of the time. At the suggestion of Reginald Heber, afterward bishop of Calcutta, she wrote a tragedy entitled ‘The Vespers of Palermo,’ which, owing partly to Sir Walter Scott, who wrote an epilogue for it, was favorably received at the Edinburgh theatre, though it had previously, in 1823, proved unsuccessful at Covent Garden. Before this time she had added greatly to her popularity by her poems entitled ‘The Restoration of the Works of Art to Italy’; ‘The Skeptic’; ‘Modern Greece’; and ‘Dartmoor.’ Later works were ‘Lays of Many Lands’; ‘Forest Sanctuary’; ‘Records of Woman’; and ‘The Songs of the Affections’ (1830). She visited Sir Walter Scott at Abbotsford, and Wordsworth at Rydal Mount, and left with each the impression of a singularly graceful and gifted woman. Her poetry is essentially lyrical and descriptive, and is always sweet, natural and pleasing. In her earlier pieces she was imitative, but she ultimately asserted her independence, and produced many short poems of great beauty and pathos. Mrs. Hemans had no dramatic power, her effusions being always intensely subjective. A memoir was published in 1836.