Author photo. Mary Howitt. Frontispiece from An autobiography (1889)

Mary Howitt. Frontispiece from An autobiography (1889)

Mary Howitt (1799–1888)

Author of The Spider and the Fly

Includes the names: Mary Howitt, Mary Howitt

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Mary Howitt, née Botham, was born into a prosperous Quaker family in Gloucestershire, and was raised at Uttoxeter. She was educated at home, and read widely; she started writing poetry at a very early age. In 1821, she married William Howitt (originally a pharmacist), and the couple had seven children. Mary and William Howitt socialized with many of the important literary figures of the day including Charles Dickens, Mrs. Gaskell, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning; in 1837 they went on a tour of northern England and stayed with William and Dorothy Wordsworth. Mary Howitt collaborated with her husband on more than 180 publications including articles, essays, and books such as The Literature and Romance of Northern Europe (1852). While living in Germany, Mary learned Swedish and Danish, and then began translating the works of novelist Fredrika Bremer, as well as the tales of Hans Christian Andersen, into English. Among her original works written independently of her husband were The Heir of West Way Ian (1847) and the three-volume novel The Cost of Caergwyn (1864). Eventually, Mary's name appeared as author, translator, or editor on more than 110 works. She supported the struggle for women's right to vote in Britain, and also championed women members of Parliament. Her son was the Anglo-Australian explorer Alfred William Howitt.
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