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Author: Watts, Susanna


WATTS, Susanna (1758-1842:

She was born on 2 Jul 1758 and baptised on 5 Jul. at St. Mary de Castro, Leicester, the youngest daughter of John Watts and Joan (Clarke) Watts of Danetts Hall, Leicester. Two elder sisters died early of consumption. Her father ran into financial difficulties and after his death in 1769 Danetts Hall was sold, at an unknown date, to provide a small annuity for the family. She clearly turned to writing for money and sold an as yet unknown four-volume novel to William Lane of the Minerva Press for 10 guineas (Scrapbook). She also wrote a periodical, The Selector (1783-4, not the anthology of 1823); Chinese Maxims (1784); and The Wonderful Travels of Prince Fan-Feredin (1794). She had acquired a knowledge of French and Italian and added translations to her Original Poems (1802).  Her A Walk Through Leicester (1804, repr. 1820, facs. 1967), an early work in the guidebook genre, was more successful. In Mar. 1807 she appealed to the RLF for help and was awarded £20. She was living at the time with her mother who was clearly showing signs of dementia or mental illness (“deranged”) and who died later that year. With two friends, almost certainly the Anti-Slavery Quaker campaigner Elizabeth Heyrick (1769-1831) and her sister Mary Ann Coltman (1778-1871), she formed an "ancient sisterhood" and produced the anti-slavery periodical The Humming Bird (1824-5). She shared with Heyrick a strong opposition to cruelty to animals, publishing The Insects in Council (1828) and The Animals’ Friend (1830). She was also active on a number of other social issues: the elderly and indigent, the ‘Distressed Irish’, Lunatic Asylums, Church Rates, and almost certainly The Poor Law Amendment Act (1834). She died after a series of strokes, on 10 Feb. 1842, at Marquis Street, off King Street, Leicester, and was buried at St. Mary de Castro. ( 11 Jul. 2021; John Nichols, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, 4 ii [1811] 570; RLF, 1/198; Scrapbook, Leicestershire Record Office, DE8170, including poems and a Letter from Maria Edgeworth to Mary Sneyd, 12 Sept. 1802; Leicester Chronicle 12 and 19 Feb. 1842, 6 Jan. 1843; “A Few Recollections of the late Mrs Susanna Watts,” in Watts, Hymns and Poems [Leicester 1842], 53-71; Shirley Aucott, Susanna Watts 1768-1842 [2004]) AA


Other Names:

  • Susannah Watts

Books written (4):

London/ Leicester: F. and C. Rivington/ all the booksellers, 1802
London/ Leicester: J. Hatchard and Son, Hurst, Chance, and Co., Simpkin and Marshall/ A. Cockshaw, 1828
London: J. Hatchard and Son, Simpkin and Marshall, and Renshaw and Kirkman, 1835