Mary Jones

(1707—1778) poet

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(d. 1778) Poet. She lived in Oxford with her clergyman brother, who was chanter of Christ Church. She learned French and Italian and may have worked as a governess. Her ballad ‘The Lass of the Hill’ was a popular success in 1742. She was close to a number of aristocratic families with court connections, who eventually organized a strong subscription list of about 1,400 people for her Miscellanies in Prose and Verse (1750). When the volume went on public sale in 1752 it was very favourably reviewed in the Monthly Review by the editor and bookseller Ralph Griffiths (1720?–1803). Later Griffiths invited her to become a reviewer, an exceptional offer for a woman writer; she declined gracefully. Among her literary acquaintances were Charlotte Lennox, Thomas Warton, and Samuel Johnson, who called her ‘the Chantress’. Her verse, presented in the modes made familiar by Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift, is witty, sociable, and self-mocking.

From The Oxford Companion to English Literature in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.

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