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Posts Tagged ‘Hester Thrale’

Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Anne Seymour Damer
8 November 1749 – 28 May 1828

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Anne Seymour Damer

Anne Seymour Damer (Conway) was born in Sevenoaks into an aristocratic Whig family; she was the only daughter of Field-Marshal Henry Seymour Conway and his wife Caroline Bruce, born Campbell, Lady Ailesbury, and was brought up at the family home at Park Place, Remenham, Berkshire.

In 1767 she married John Damer, the son of Lord Milton, later the 1st Earl of Dorchester. The couple received an income of £5,000 from Lord Milton, and were left large fortunes by Milton and Henry Conway. They separated after seven years, and he committed suicide in 1776, leaving considerable debts. Her artistic career developed during her widowhood.

Anne was a frequent visitor to Europe. During one voyage she was captured by a privateer, but released unharmed in Jersey. She visited Sir Horace Mann in Florence, and Sir William Hamilton in Naples, where she was introduced to Lord Nelson. In 1802, while the Treaty of Amiens was in effect, she visited Paris with the author Mary Berry and was granted an audience with Napoleon.

From 1818, Anne Damer lived at York House, Twickenham. She died, aged 79, in 1828 at her London house in Grosvenor Square, and is buried in the church at Sundridge, Kent, along with her sculptor’s tools and apron and the ashes of her favourite dog.

The development of Anne Seymour Damer’s interest in sculpture is credited to David Hume (who served as Under-Secretary when her father was Secretary of State, 1766–68) and to the encouragement of Horace Walpole, who was her guardian during her parents’ frequent trips abroad. According to Walpole, her training included lessons in modelling from Giuseppe Ceracchi, in marble carving from John Bacon, and in anatomy from William Cumberland Cruikshank.

During the period 1784–1818, Damer exhibited 32 works as an honorary exhibitor at the Royal Academy. Her work, primarily busts in Neoclassical style, developed from early wax sculptures to technically complex ones in works in terracotta, bronze, and marble. Her subjects, largely drawn from friends and colleagues in Whig circles, included Lady Melbourne, Nelson, Joseph Banks, George III, Mary Berry, Charles James Fox and herself. She executed several actors’ portraits, such as the busts of her friends Sarah Siddons and Elizabeth Farren (as the Muses Melpomene and Thalia).

She produced keystone sculptures of Isis and Tamesis for each side of the central arch on the bridge at Henley-on-Thames. The original models are in the Henley Gallery of the River and Rowing Museum nearby. Another major architectural work was her 10-foot statue of Apollo, now destroyed, for the frontage of Drury Lane theatre. She also created two bas reliefs for the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery of scenes from Coriolanus and Antony and Cleopatra.

Damer was also a writer, with one published novel, Belmour (first published on 1801).

Damer’s friends included a number of influential Whigs and aristocrats. Her guardian and friend Horace Walpole was a significant figure, who helped foster her career and on his death left her his London villa, Strawberry Hill. She also moved in literary and theatrical circles, where her friends included the poet and dramatist Joanna Baillie, the author Mary Berry, and the actors Sarah Siddons and Elizabeth Farren. She frequently took part in masques at the Pantheon and amateur theatricals at the London residence of the Duke of Richmond, who was married to her half-sister.

A number of sources have named Damer as being involved in lesbian relationships, particularly relating to her close friendship with Mary Berry, to whom she had been introduced by Walpole in 1789. Even during her marriage, her likings for male clothing and demonstrative friendships with other women were publicly noted and satirised by hostile commentators such as Hester Thrale and in the anonymous pamphlet A Sapphick Epistle from Jack Cavendish to the Honourable and most Beautiful, Mrs D— (c.1770).

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

John Stockdale
25 March 1750 – 21 June 1814

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John Stockdale

John Stockdale was born in Caldbeck, Cumberland, the son of Priscilla Stockdale (1726–1789) and, Joseph Stockdale. He is believed to have been raised as a blacksmith, like his father, and then to have become valet to John Astley of Dukinfield, Cheshire. He married Mary Ridgway, a native of Roe Cross, Mottram-in-Longdendale, Cheshire, and sister to James Ridgway, a well-known publisher of Piccadilly, London. He had met Mary in the Dukinfield Moravian chapel.

Stockdale moved to London about 1780 and worked as a porter to publisher John Almon, near to the premises of his brother in law. When Almon retired from business in favour of John Debrett, Stockdale opened a book shop in competition and, “being a man of natural parts, he soon became conspicuous in business in spite of much eccentricity of conduct and great coarseness of manners”. Both Stockdale’s and Debrett’s premises became meeting places for the political classes, Debrett’s being frequented by the Whigs and Stockdale’s by the supporters of William Pitt. John Adams, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States (the 2nd President of the United States) lodged with Stockdale for two months during 1783.

He was an industrious publisher and among the many works that he published were:

  • Adam Ferguson’s History of the Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic (1783);
  • An edition of William Shakespeare’s Dramatic Works (1784);
  • Bryan Edwards’s History of the West Indies;
  • George Chalmers’ edition of Daniel Defoe’s History of the Union;
  • Arthur Phillip’s Voyage to Botany Bay;
  • Samuel Johnson’s Works (1787) (volumes 12 and 13 of which Stockdale edited);
  • John Whitaker various works.
  • Hester Thrale’s Retrospection: or, a review of the most striking and important events, characters, situations and their consequences, which the last eighteen hundred years have presented to the view of mankind (1801).

He also issued the London Courant newspaper, Debates in Parliament (1784–90), an edition of Robinson Crusoe and John Aikin’s A Description of the Country from Thirty to Forty Miles round Manchester (1795), originally intended to be merely an account of the neighbourhood of Mottram-in-Longdendale, with which Stockdale had personal acquaintance.

In 1788 he published John Logan’s Review of the Charges against Warren Hastings. The work was conceived by the government to embody a libellous charge of corruption and injustice against the House of Commons. Stockdale was accordingly prosecuted. The case came before Lord Kenyon in December 1789 and Stockdale was eloquently defended by Thomas Erskine. Erskine contended that the defendant was not to be judged by isolated passages, selected and put together in the accusation, but by the entire context of the publication and its general character and objects. Stockdale was acquitted, and such a conspicuous defence of the liberty of the press led to the passing of the Libel Act 1792, which established that nobody was to be punished for a few unguarded expressions, and left the construction of an alleged libeller’s general purpose and animus in writing to a jury.

Stockdale again figured as defendant in an action for libel brought by Joseph Nightingale in 1809, when he had to pay £200 damages. Towards the end of his career he dealt largely in remaindered books from other publishers, and caused some resentment among the regular traders by a series of sales of books by auction which he established in various parts of the country. Early in his enterprise he had acquired considerable property, but afterwards he was less successful and the circumstance of having to make an arrangement with his creditors is said to have caused him some anxiety and accelerated his death.

Stockdale and his wife had several children including:

  • Mary Stockdale, writer and publisher;
  • John Joseph Stockdale, publisher who was also the subject of a libel case involving parliament in Stockdale v. Hansard; and
  • William Stockdale, bookseller.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Elizabeth Montagu
2 October 1718 – 25 August 1800

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Elizabeth Montagu

Elizabeth Robinson was born in Yorkshire to Matthew Robinson and Elizabeth his wife née Drake. She was the first of three daughters. Conyers Middleton, the prominent Cambridge don, was the second husband of her Drake grandmother Sarah, and she and her sister Sarah, the future novelist Sarah Scott, spent time as children on extended stays with Dr. Middleton, as both parents were somewhat aloof. The two girls learned Latin, French, and Italian and studied literature. As a child, Elizabeth and Sarah, in particular, were very close.

While young, Elizabeth became a friend of Lady Margaret Harley, the only surviving child of Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer. Lady Margaret and Elizabeth corresponded weekly when apart and were inseparable when together. She spent time with Lady Margaret in London and met many of the celebrated figures of the 1730s, including the poet Edward Young and the religious thinker Gilbert West. In Lady Margaret’s household, men and women spoke as equals and engaged in witty, learned banter. Visits to Lady Margaret became more important to Elizabeth when her mother inherited a country seat in Kent and made that her home, with the daughters.

In 1738, Montagu wrote to Harley explaining that she had no desire for men or marriage. She saw marriage as a rational and expedient convention and did not suppose it possible to love a man. In 1742 she married Edward Montagu, grandson of the 2nd Earl of Sandwich, who owned numerous coal mines and had several rents and estates in Northumberland. She was twenty-two and he was fifty years old.
The marriage was advantageous, but it was apparently not very passionate. All the same, she bore a son, John, the next year, and she loved her child immensely. When he died unexpectedly in 1744, she was devastated. She and Edward remained friendly throughout their remaining time together, but there were no more children or pregnancies. Prior to the loss of her son, she had not been very religious, but his death brought her to consider religion more and more. Her sister, meanwhile, Sarah Scott, was growing extremely devout.

Elizabeth kept a female companion with her most of the time. This person was not exactly a servant, but she would act in that role. She would be expected to carry things and aid Elizabeth on her daily round. Barbara Schnorrenberg suggests that Sarah was in this function and says that there is good reason to suggest that she married poorly to escape that situation (Schnorrenberg 723). After Elizabeth’s mother died, her father moved to London with his housekeeper, giving no money at all to his children. When Sarah was removed from her bad marriage, Elizabeth’s father (whose ward she was) not only gave her no financial help but forbade either Elizabeth or Matthew, her brother, from relieving her distress.

Beginning in 1750, she and Edward established a routine where they would winter in London in Mayfair and then, in the spring, go to Sandleford in Berkshire. He would then go on to Northumberland and Yorkshire to manage his holdings, while she would occasionally accompany him to the family manor-house at East Denton Hall, a clean-lined mansion of 1622 on the West Road in Newcastle upon Tyne.

She was a shrewd businesswoman, despite affecting to patronise Northumbrian society for its practical conversation. Though acting as Lady Bountiful to her miners and their families, she was pleased at how cheap this could be. She was also glad to note that: ‘Our pitmen are afraid of being turned off and that fear keeps an order and regularity amongst them that is very uncommon.’ Elizabeth enjoyed hearing the miners singing in the pit, but found, alas, that their dialect was ‘dreadful to the auditors’ nerves.’

 

In London, Elizabeth began to be a celebrated hostess. She organized literary breakfasts with Gilbert West, George Lyttelton, and others. By 1760, these had turned to evening entertainments with large assemblies. Card playing and strong drink were forbidden from these convocations, which were now known as blue stocking events.

By 1770, her home on Hill Street had become the premiere salon in London. Samuel Johnson, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Edmund Burke, David Garrick, and Horace Walpole were all in the circle. For writers, being introduced there meant patronage, and Montagu patronized a number of authors, including Elizabeth Carter, Hannah More, Frances Burney, Anna Barbauld, Sarah Fielding, Hester Chapone, James Beattie, and Anna Williams. Samuel Johnson’s hostess, Hester Thrale, was also an occasional visitor to Hill Street.

Among the blue stockings, Elizabeth Montagu was not the dominant personality, but she was the woman of greatest means, and it was her house, purse, and power that made the society possible. As a literary critic, she was a fan of Samuel Richardson, both Fieldings (Henry Fielding and Sarah Fielding), and Fanny Burney, and she was pleased to discover that Laurence Sterne was a distant relation. She was related to Laurence Sterne through the Botham family. Sterne entrusted her with the disposition of his papers upon his departure for France. He was in ill health and the prospect of his dying abroad was real. She was a supporter of Bishop Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry.

She also held similar events at her residence in the centre house of the Royal Crescent in Bath.

In 1760, George Lyttleton encouraged her to write Dialogues of the Dead, and she contributed three sections to the work, anonymously (her authorship of these is testified to elsewhere). It is a series of conversations between the living and the illustrious dead and works as a satire of 18th century vanity and manners. In 1769, she published An Essay on the Writings and Genius of Shakespear. In it, she proclaims William Shakespeare the greatest English poet and, in fact, the greatest poet of any nation.

She also attacks Samuel Johnson’s Preface to Shakespeare from 1765 for not having gone on to praise Shakespeare’s plays enough. While Johnson had dealt with text, history, and the circumstances of editing, Montagu wrote instead about the characters, plots, and beauties of the verse in Shakespeare and saw in him a championing of all things inherently English. When the book was initially published anonymously, it was thought to be by Joseph Warton, but by 1777 her name appeared on the title page. Johnson, for his part, was estranged from Montagu at this point.

In the late 1760s, Edward Montagu fell ill, and Elizabeth took care of him, although she resented giving up her freedom. He died in 1775. In 1776, she adopted her nephew, the orphan of her brother. Matthew Robinson, the child, kept his family name, but he was named Elizabeth’s heir. At that point, the coal and land holdings Montagu passed on to Elizabeth accounted for an income of £ 7,000 a year. She managed her wealth and estates well, and by her death her coal income was worth 10,000 pounds a year.

In 1777, she began work on Montagu House in Portman Square in London, moving in in 1781, on land leased for 99 years. She also expanded Sandleford’s Montagu House in the 1780s, and she got Capability Brown to design its gardens. She died in Montagu House in London on 25 August 1800 and left all of her money to Matthew Robinson, her nephew.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Samuel Rogers
30 July 1763 – 18 December 1855

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Samuel Rogers

Samuel Rogers was born at Newington Green, then a village north of Islington, London. His father, Thomas Rogers, a banker, was the son of a Stourbridge glass manufacturer, who was also a merchant in Cheapside. Thomas married Mary, the only daughter of his father’s partner, Daniel Radford, becoming himself a partner shortly afterwards. On his mother’s side Samuel Rogers was connected with the well-known English Dissenters clergymen Philip Henry and his son Matthew, was brought up in Nonconformist circles, and became a long-standing member of the Unitarian congregation at Newington Green, then led by the remarkable Dr Richard Price. He was educated in Hackney and Stoke Newington.

Two nephews, orphaned young and for whom he assumed responsibility, were Samuel Sharpe, the Egyptologist and translator of the Bible, and his younger brother Daniel, the early geologist.

Samuel Rogers wished to enter the Presbyterian ministry, but his father persuaded him to join the banking business in Cornhill. In long holidays, necessitated by delicate health, Rogers became interested in English literature, particularly the work of Samuel Johnson, Thomas Gray and Oliver Goldsmith. He learned Gray’s poems by heart, and his family wealth allowed him to leisure to try writing poetry himself. He began with contributions to the Gentleman’s Magazine, and in 1786 he published a volume containing some imitations of Goldsmith and an “Ode to Superstition” in the style of Gray.

In 1788 his elder brother Thomas died, and Samuel’s business responsibilities were increased. In the next year he paid a visit to Scotland, where he met Adam Smith, Henry Mackenzie, Hester Thrale and others. In 1791 he was in Paris, and enjoyed the Orleans Collection of art at the Palais Royal, many of the treasures of which were later to pass into his possession. With Gray as his model, Rogers took great pains in polishing his verses, and six years elapsed after the publication of his first volume before he printed his elaborate poem on The Pleasures of Memory (1792) – regarded by some as the last embodiment of the poetic diction of the 18th century. The theory of elevating and refining familiar themes by abstract treatment and lofty imagery is taken to extremes. In this art of “raising a subject”, as the 18th century phrase was, the Pleasures of Memory is much more perfect than Thomas Campbell’s Pleasures of Hope, published a few years later in imitation. Byron said of it, “There is not a vulgar line in the poem.”

In 1793 his father’s death gave Rogers the principal share in the banking house in Cornhill, and a considerable income. He left Newington Green and established himself in chambers in the Temple. Within his intimate circle at this time were his best friend, Richard Sharp (Conversation Sharp), and the artists John Flaxman, John Opie, Martin Shee and Henry Fuseli. He also made the acquaintance of Charles James Fox, with whom he visited the galleries in Paris in 1802, and whose friendship introduced him to Holland House. In 1803 he moved to 22 St James’s Place, where for fifty years he entertained all the celebrities of London. Flaxman and Charles Alfred Stothard had a share in the decoration of the house, which Rogers virtually rebuilt, and proceeded to fill with works of art. His collections at his death realised £50,000.

An invitation to one of Rogers’s breakfasts was a formal entry into literary society, and his dinners were even more select. His social success was due less to his literary position than to his powers as a conversationalist, his educated taste in all matters of art, and no doubt to his sarcastic and bitter wit, for which he excused himself by saying that he had such a small voice that no one listened if he said pleasant things. “He certainly had the kindest heart and unkindest tongue of any one I ever knew,” said Fanny Kemble. He helped the poet Robert Bloomfield, he reconciled Thomas Moore with Francis Jeffrey Jeffrey and with Byron, and he relieved Sheridan’s difficulties in the last days of his life. Moore, who refused help from all his friends, and would only owe debts to his publishers, found it possible to accept help from Rogers. He procured a pension for HF Cary, the translator of Dante, and obtained Wordsworth his sinecure as distributor of stamps.

Rogers was in effect a literary dictator in England. He made his reputation by The Pleasures of Memory when William Cowper’s fame was still in the making. He became the friend of Wordsworth, Walter Scott and Byron, and lived long enough to give an opinion as to the fitness of Alfred Tennyson for the post of Poet Laureate. Alexander Dyce, from the time of his first introduction to Rogers, was in the habit of writing down the anecdotes with which his conversation abounded. In 1856 he arranged and published selections as Recollections of the Table-Talk of Samuel Rogers, to which is added Porsoniana. Rogers himself kept a notebook in which he entered impressions of the conversation of many of his distinguished friends—Fox, Edmund Burke, Henry Grattan, Richard Porson, John Horne Tooke, Talleyrand, Lord Erskine, Scott, Lord Grenville and the Duke of Wellington. They were published by his nephew William Sharpe in 1859 as Recollections by Samuel Rogers; Reminiscences and Table-Talk of Samuel Rogers, Banker, poet, and Patron of the Arts, 1763–1855 (1903), by GH Powell, is an amalgamation of these two authorities. Rogers held various honorary positions: he was one of the trustees of the National Gallery; and he served on a commission to inquire into the management of the British Museum, and on another for the rebuilding of the Houses of Parliament.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in November 1796.

 

His literary production remained slow. An Epistle to a Friend (the above-mentioned Conversation Sharp), published in 1798, describes Rogers’s ideal of a happy life. This was followed by The Voyage of Columbus (1810), and by Jacqueline (1814), a narrative poem, written in the four-accent measure of the newer writers, and published in the same volume with Byron’s Lara. His reflective poem on Human Life (1819), on which he had been engaged for twelve years, is written in his earlier manner.

In 1814 Rogers made a tour on the Continent with his sister Sarah. He travelled through Switzerland to Italy, keeping a full diary of events and impressions, and had made his way to Naples when the news of Napoleon’s escape from Elba obliged him to hurry home.

Seven years later he returned to Italy, paying a visit to Byron and Shelley at Pisa. Out of the earlier of these tours arose his last and longest work, Italy. The first part was published anonymously in 1822; the second, with his name attached, in 1828. It was at first a failure, but Rogers was determined to make it a success. He enlarged and revised the poem, and commissioned illustrations from J.M.W. Turner, Thomas Stothard and Samuel Prout. These were engraved on steel in the sumptuous edition of 1830. The book then proved a great success, and Rogers followed it up with an equally sumptuous edition of his Poems (1834). In 1850, on Wordsworth’s death, Rogers was asked to succeed him as poet laureate, but declined the honour on account of his age. For the last five years of his life he was confined to his chair in consequence of a fall in the street. He died in London, and is buried in the family tomb in the churchyard of St Mary’s Church, Hornsey High Street, Haringey.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Sir John Lade
September 5 1762-October 18 1831

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Sir John Lade

Sir John was the posthumous child of the first Baronet. His mother was a sister of Henry Thrale, the Brewer and husband of Hester Thrale. Sir John inherited a vast fortune which was also from brewing. While being raised, Samuel Johnson was consulted regularly but found Sir John lacking in intellect. “Endeavour, Madam, to procure him knowledge; for really ignorance to a rich man is like fat to a sick sheep, it only serves to call the rooks about him.” is the advice that was given to the boys mother, Lady Lade.

Lade inherited control of his fortune when he turned 21 and Johnson wrote the poem:

“Long-expected one-and-twenty
Ling’ring year, at length is flown
Pride and pleasure, pomp and plenty
Great Sir John, are now your own.
Loosen’d from the minor’s tether,
Free to mortgage or to sell.

Wild as wind, and light as feather
Bid the sons of thrift farewell…..
Lavish of your grandsire’s guineas
Show the spirit of an heir.

Sir John now lost large amounts of money at gambling and the races. He also became a remarkable judge of horseflesh. He discovered and owned Medley which was the most important horse of the last quarter of the eighteenth century. Lade dressed in riding clothes at all times. He was nicknamed ‘Jehu’ and considered the finest driver as the time as well. A founding member of the Four-In-Hand Club. He even is credited with the simple know (for his cravat) He drove a team of six greys, unless with the Prince Regent and then they had a team of six matched bays.

HIs betting was famous. A thousand guineas or one. His phrase of when he paid his debts, “Black Monday” is now accepted in the common vernacular as day when fortunes are lost.

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Lady Letitia Lade

He met a woman named Letitia Derby who worked the brothels of Drury Lane. She was the mistress of Sixteen String Jack Rann, a highwayman. After he was hanged, she became the mistress of the Duke of York. But she and Lade had much in common with their abilities and love of horses. They were married in 1787. Lade was also friendly with Rann for they both liked the races, and Rann had been a coachman for Hester Thrale’s sister.

Letitia was a favorite of George IV. Her use of profanity was well documented and it became common to say he swears like Lady Lade. Johnson though so many years before had proven correct for Lade lost all his fortune and even ended up for sometime in debtor’s prison. Prinny though did right by his friend and gave the man a pension of three hundred pounds a year (which was raised to four hundred and then five hundred a year.) Eventually they faded from court. Letitia died in 1825, and Sir John retired to live om his stud farm, dependent still on the generosity of George and his successors.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Hester Thrale
January 27 1741-May 2 1821

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Thrale was born at Bodvel Hall, in Wales. A member of the powerful landowners, the Salusbury family. Her father though went bankrupt and in an attempt to invest in Halifax, Canada. She married a rich brewer, Henry Thrale in 1763 in London. They had 12 children and lived at Streatham Park. The marriage was strained, Henry Thrale was slighted at court and might have married Hester to improve his social status. The eldest daughter, also Hester married a viscount.

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After her marriage, Hester was able to go about society as she pleased. She was wealthy and she met Samurel Johnson, James Boswell, Bishop Thomas Perry, Oliver Goldsmith and other literary figures including Fanny Burney. She and Burney went to Gay Street, Bath. Samuel Johnson visited Wales in Thrale’s company on several occasions and wrote two verses for her.

In 1784 she married Gabriel Mario Piozzi an Italian music teacher. It caused a rift with Johnson but they mended a little before he died. Burney also disproved but then Burney would marry an impoverished emigre as well. Hester retired to Wales when she married.

After Johnson died, she published Anecdotes of the late Samuel Johnson and her letters. These fill out what is known of Johnson. She also attempted popular history with Retrospection: on a review of the most striking and important events, characters, situations and their consequences which the last eighteen hundred years have presented to the view of mankind. At her death a plaque inside the church reads “Dr. Johnson’s Mrs. Thrale. Witty, Vivacious and Charming, in an age of Genius She held ever a foremost Place.”

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