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Helen Maria Williams

Abstract

'In every country it is social pleasure that sheds the most delicious flowers which grow on the path of life' (H.M. Williams, Letters, 1790, 140). This British author, who settled in Paris in 1792, contributed greatly to the circulation of ideas between France and England through her intellectual and political circles as well as through her publications. She was a tireless chronicler of social practices and historical events from the Revolution to the Restoration. Helen Maria Williams (1761-1827) showed a sustained appetence for literary and political circles. She frequented many salons in Paris and London before becoming a salonnière herself in both capitals. Born to a Scottish father and Welsh mother and from an upper middle-class background, she arrived in London in 1781. Through her acquaintance with the dissident clergyman Andrew Kippis, who encouraged her literary activity, she met Richard Price and Joseph Priestley, who were also members of nonconformist circles and closely associated with the Whigs. She joined the salon of Elizabeth Robinson Montagu (who became her patron) in Portman Square and frequented Hester Lynch Thrale's salon in Streatham Park, where she became friendly with Samuel Johnson, John Moore, Charlotte Smith and Anna Seward. Recognised as a promising poet (An Ode of the Peace, 1783; Peru, 1784), she soon opened her own salon in Southampton Row (Bloomsbury), where she received a number of intellectuals generally committed to progressive ideas, including

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hal-03745478 , version 1 (04-08-2022)

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  • HAL Id : hal-03745478 , version 1

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Véronique Léonard-Roques. Helen Maria Williams. The Digital Encyclopedia of British Sociability in the Long Eighteenth Century, 2021. ⟨hal-03745478⟩

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