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By: Ann Hawkshaw (1812-1885)

Book cover Poems for my Children

Published in 1847, five years after her epic poem, 'Dionysus the Areopagite', 'Poems For My Children' was Ann Hawkshaw's second collection of poetry. The poems are dedicated to her six children and many are written in an intimate conversational style. 'Ada', the final poem in the collection, is a memorial for her second child, who had died of hydrocephalus shortly before her fifth birthday. Five historical poems, set in the times of the Druids, the Romans the Saxons, the Normans and the Crusades, punctuate the collection and anticipate her later collection, 'Sonnets on Anglo-Saxon History'.

Book cover Sonnets on Anglo-Saxon History

The history of Britain up to the Norman Conquest in the form of 100 prose commentaries, each followed by a sonnet. The commentaries set the historical scene, quoting from Bede, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and noted historians of the times, Hawkshaws sonnets are both imaginative and reflective, often casting new light on historical figures and events. Born in Yorkshire, Ann Hawkshaw spent much of her creative life in Manchester, where her husband John Hawkshaw was elected to Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society and, as a friend of Elizabeth Gaskell, she was drawn into the intellectual and literary circle of the city.

Book cover Cecil's Own Book

Ann Hawkshaw's fourth and final collection was published privately and named for her young grandson, Cecil Wedgwood. Written for children, the volume alternates prose with poetry and is lighter in tone than her earlier work, although poems such as 'The Discontented Stream' and 'The Ambitious Water-Lily' are tinged with a sense of waste. The final piece in the collection, 'In Memoriam', is a moving elegy on childhood death, which alludes to Hawkshaw's loss of three children including Cecil's mother who died shortly after his birth. - Summary by Phil Benson

Book cover Dionysius the Areopagite, with other poems

An early figure in the birth of poetry in industrial Manchester, Ann Hawkshaw published three collections and another was circulated privately. Her first collection. published in Manchester and London in 1842, begins with an epic poem, Dionysius the Areopagite. Based on the New Testament story of the conversion of Dionysius by St Paul, much of the poem centres on the consequences of Dionysius' conversion for his betrothed, Myra, and her sister, Corrina. The collection also includes two of Hawkshaw's most important works, The Past and The Future, and a number of shorter poems on themes of history, loss and faith.


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