Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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HEMANS (née BROWNE ), FELICIA DOROTHEA ( 1793 - 1835 ), poet ;

b. in Liverpool 25 September 1793 , a daughter of George Browne , merchant . When she was seven her family moved to Gwrych , near Abergele, Denb. Her education was patchy but she read avidly and her progress and development were so exceptional that she was able to publish her Juvenile Poems in 1808 shortly after her fourteenth birthday. These poems were not well received but from then on she wrote and published almost continuously. She married Captain Alfred Hemans in 1812 , and by 1818 , the year they separated, she had borne him five sons. Other than for one short period, she lived in Bronwylfa , near Abergele , in her mother's house. A number of works belong to this period, The Domestic Affections and Other Poems , 1812 ; translations of the works of the Portuguese poet Camoens and others, 1818 ; The Sceptic , 1820 ; The siege of Valencia , 1823 ; The Forest Sanctuary and Lays of Many Lands , 1825 . Her play, The Vespers of Palermo , was performed in Covent Garden , London , in December 1823 and with greater success in Edinburgh the following year. In 1825 she crossed the river Clwyd to Rhyllon and there she wrote Dramatic Scene between Bronwylfa and Rhyllon . After her mother's death two years later she went to live in Watertree near Liverpool . In 1831 she moved to Dublin ; from then on she wrote mainly religious poetry. Her health had never been good and she died in Dublin 16 May, 1835 . She was of a loving and gentle disposition and her poetry was tender and flowed gracefully and evenly, but it lacked strength and permanent value. Her collected works were edited by Mrs. Hughes in 1839 and by W.M. Rossetti in 1873 .

Sources:

  • H. F. Chorley , Memorials of Mrs. Hemans with illustrations of her literary character from her private correspondence , 1836 (two volumes), 1836 ;
  • Memoir of the Life and Writings of Mrs. Hemans. By her sister , Philadelphia, 1839 by Hughes and Rossetti ;
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ;
  • [ Peter W. Trinder in Writers of Wales Series, 1984 ]

Author:

Professor Gwyn Jones, M.A., (1907-99), Aberystwyth / Cardiff

Published date: 2001