Posts Tagged ‘Mary Anne Burges’

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.

Mary Anne Burges
6 December 1763 – 10 August 1813

Mary Anne Burges was born in Edinburgh in 1763 to George and Anne Burges. Her father had distinguished himself at the Battle of Culloden by capturing the standard of Charles Edward Stewart and was later deputy paymaster in Gibraltar; Her mother, Anne Whichnour Somerville, was the daughter of James Somerville, 13th Lord Somerville.

Burges was a gifted linguist speaking five to seven European languages. Her particular interests were geology and botany. Her group of friends included Anne Elliot, Jean-André Deluc and the diarist Elizabeth Simcoe. She is said to have been a major contributor to Deluc’s last book and she sketched her friend Elizabeth Simcoe, as well as illustrating her own botanical descriptions.

She is known for anonymously publishing a sequel to John Bunyan’s best seller, The Pilgrim’s Progress. Her book was called The Progress of the Pilgrim Good-Intent, in Jacobinical Times. The hero of the narrative is “Good-Intent” and according to the book’s introduction he is the great, great grandson of John Bunyan’s hero, “Christian”. The book went through seven editions in English, two in Ireland and three in America by 1802. This established Burges as a professional and independent woman. She died in 1813 at her house in Ashfield in 1813.

An introduction by her elder brother, Sir James Lamb, 1st Baronet, to a later edition of her book revealed the identity of the book’s author. In 1814 the book was reissued with John Bowdler for another edition.

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