Mary Howitt entry: Overview screen.
Writing and Life
Works By
Between them, Mary Howitt and her husband William wrote and published over 180 books. Hers alone, at her death, occupied forty pages of the British Museum printed catalogue. Bibliographic Citation link. Bearing the expenses of a large family, they needed to harness their literary productivity to earning potential. Bibliographic Citation link. As an opportunistic writer in several low-status, low-cost genres, accustomed to placing the same work in several successive venues, Mary Howitt left a complex, even confusing bibliography, not yet reduced to order by scholars.
Her work covers a large range in both prose and poetry, for children and for adults: novels, moral tales for poor or ill-educated readers, essays, memoirs of herself and others, local description, local and national history. Her interests in religious seeking, in emigration and colonization, and in the natural world, are all reflected in her writings. This energetic and reform-minded Victorian author deserves further scholarly attention than she has yet received.
12 March 1799 Mary Botham (later MH) was born at Whitecliffe near Coleford in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, the second in a family of three daughters and a son. Bibliographic Citation link.
By 22 February 1834 MH published The Seven Temptations, which she thought "her best and most original work"; the same year came Sketches of Natural History, which contains her best-remembered short piece: "The Spider and the Fly". Bibliographic Citation link.
30 January 1888 MH died of bronchitis in Rome, aged eighty-eight, three weeks after her audience with Pope Leo XIII. Bibliographic Citation link.
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