Anna Williams

Anna Williams was born in 1706 at Rosemarket, Pembrokeshire. Her family provided her with a wide education in arts, literature, science, Italian and French and her father, Zachariah Williams, was a scientist and physician.

In 1726-7 the family moved to London, and Anna became a close companion of fellow writer Samuel Johnson. Despite failing eyesight, Anna published a translation of a French life of the emperor Julian in 1746 while also caring for her ailing father. Other works included Miscellanies in Prose and Verse, published in 1766, which was successful and earned the author about £150. Anna also wrote an  incomplete dictionary of philosophical terms and individual verses such as ‘On the Death of Sir Erasmus Philipps, Unfortunately Drowned in the River Avon’. Her style was influenced by Alexander Pope

In 1748, Dr Johnson helped Anna in caring for her father, as well as sourcing a surgeon to operate on her cataracts. She later lived with Johnson and managed his household and expenses as well as accompanying him when entertaining or visiting.

As Anna grew older she was described as ‘peevish’ and became intolerant of other members of the household. However, she and Johnson remained constant companions. After her death he wrote: ‘Her curiosity was universal, her knowledge was very extensive, and she sustained forty years of misery with steady fortitude. Thirty years and more she has been my companion, and her death has left me very desolate’. She left £200 in stocks at her death, and £157.14s. to the Ladies’ Charity School, Snow Hill, London in support of ‘poor and fatherless children’.

Categories: Agriculture

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