Elizabeth Hands

1746–1815

Though little is known about the life of Romantic poet Elizabeth Hands, it is believed that she worked as a domestic servant near Coventry, England, and married a blacksmith in 1785. Together they had at least one child, a daughter.

Publishing her poems under the pseudonym Daphne, Hands drew the attention of Thomas James, the headmaster at Rugby School. The school’s press published her collection of poetry, The Death of Amnon: A Poem with an Appendix: Containing Pastorals, and Other Poetical Pieces (1789). The volume reached more than a thousand subscribers, including Anna Seward and Edmund Burke. Hands often uses anapestic tetrameter and blank verse rather than rhymed iambic pentameter, aligning her cadence with other working-class female poets of the time. Her poetry, often quietly satiric, also favors plain speech and themes of domesticity and literary tradition.

Poet Categorization

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Romantic

LIFE SPAN 1746–1815

Biography

Though little is known about the life of Romantic poet Elizabeth Hands, it is believed that she worked as a domestic servant near Coventry, England, and married a blacksmith in 1785. Together they had at least one child, a daughter.

Publishing her poems under the pseudonym Daphne, Hands drew the attention of Thomas James, the headmaster at Rugby School. The school’s press published her collection of poetry, The Death of Amnon: A . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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