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Anna Williams

(1706—1783) poet and companion of Samuel Johnson


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(1706–83) Poet, daughter of Zachariah Williams (c.1672–1755), an unsuccessful inventor; Samuel Johnson wrote a pamphlet promoting his scheme for determining the longitude at sea in 1755. She published a Life of the Emperor Julian, translated from a French source, in 1746. She became completely blind in 1752, living in Johnson's household for much of the rest of her life. At Johnson's prompting David Garrick put on a benefit performance of Aaron Hill's Merope for her in 1756. Her Miscellanies in Prose and Verse (1766) included a story by Johnson, and was supported by other friends such as Thomas Percy, Hester Thrale, and Elizabeth Carter. Among the contents are verses in praise of Samuel Richardson's Sir Charles Grandison, light satires (‘The Nunnery’), elegies, odes, ‘Rasselas to Imlac’, and a sonnet in imitation of Edmund Spenser. Williams also received assistance from Elizabeth Montagu. She features prominently in James Boswell's Life of Johnson.

From The Oxford Companion to English Literature in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.


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