The daughter of one of King George III’s courtiers, English poet Catherine Maria Fanshawe grew up in Chipstead, Surrey. Her household encouraged her interests in poetry and art, though poor health led her to spend much of her youth in Italy.
Often occasional, Fanshawe’s poems explore social and romantic themes. Though she shared some of her work with other writers and friends, she did not publish during her lifetime, save for a few poems in the anthology A Collection of Poems From Living Authors (1823). Her poem “The Riddle in the Letter H” is often mistakenly attributed to Lord Byron. The bulk of her work was posthumously published in Memorials of Miss C. M. Fanshawe (1865) and Literary Remains of Catherine Maria Fanshawe (1876).
Fanshawe died in Putney Heath in 1834.
Poems by Catherine Maria Fanshawe
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