Barbauld, Anna Letitia (née Aikin; 1743–1825)

Poet, essayist and children’s author, sister of John Aikin and aunt of Arthur Aikin, Southey’s editor at the Annual Review. She married the Revd Rochemont Barbauld (1749–1808) on 26 May 1774. Barbauld and Southey met in 1797 and had many acquaintances in common, including George Dyer, William Godwin and Joseph Johnson. Barbauld was publicly linked with the literary and scientific experimentalism of Southey’s circle, and featured in the Anti-Jacobin satire ‘The Pneumatic Revellers’ (1800). She and Southey both contributed to the Monthly Magazine and the Annual Review and occasionally socialised, in particular during Southey’s time in London in 1801–1802. However, his attitude to her was ambivalent. He agreed with her advice to Coleridge (whom Barbauld admired and promoted) not to lose himself in ‘the maze of metaphysic lore’, but condemned the verses in which she articulated this as ‘trite’. He also punned on her surname, calling her ‘Bare-bald’ because he attributed to her a hostile review of Charles Lamb’s play John Woodvil; a Tragedy (1802) in the Annual Review for 1802, 1 (1803), 688–692.

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