Anne Bannerman



Anne Bannerman was a Scottish poet.

She was born in Edinburgh to Isobel (née Dick) and William Bannerman, a "running stationer" licensed to sell ballads in the streets. She was part of the Edinburgh literary circle which included John Leyden, Jessie Stewart, and Thomas Campbell, and "remains significant for her Gothic ballads, as well as for her innovative sonnet series and her bold original odes."

Bannerman's early work was published, often pseudonymously, in periodicals, notably the Monthly Magazine, the Poetical Register, and the Edinburgh Magazine, the latter of which was edited by her friend and supporter, Robert Anderson. She was read and admired by Thomas Park, James Currie, Bishop Thomas Percy, Anne Grant, and antiquary Joseph Cooper Walker. Her first volume, Poems (1800), was well regarded but did not sell well. It contains a series of odes, original sonnets, a sonnet series translated from Petrarch, and another based on The Sorrows of Werther. In these two latter Bannerman developed Joanna Baillie's theory of dramatic composition — her stated intent to focus on the progress of one master passion — and applied it to poetry. Her second collection, Tales of Superstition and Chivalry (1802) was published anonymously. It consisted of ten Gothic ballads and four engravings, and did not fare so well with reviewers, in part because of her penchant for the strain of obscurity and ambiguity within the Gothic tradition. Her ballads were, however, praised by Walter Scott.

After the deaths of her mother and brother she struggled financially, and was a governess for a period despite precarious health. Although various of her friends supported her and attempted to procure her a pension, such attempts were largely unsuccessful and she died in debt. Contemporary scholars are rediscovering her work and she is the subject of several recent studies.

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