We’ve all heard of poets like Robert Frost, EE Cummings, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and many other popular names that seem to fill the English class curricula. Unless you study Victorian poetry, though, you may not have heard of Adelaide Procter.
Born October 30, 1825, Adelaide Procter was the extremely gifted daughter of poet Bryan Waller Procter (a.k.a. “Barry Cornwall”), and Anne Skepper. Her parents were friends with Charles Dickens, and so Adelaide was raised in a distinguished literary circle.
She began having her work published when she was only eighteen years old. In 1853, she contributed to Book of Beauty and Household Words under the pseudonym Mary Berwick so the publisher, Charles Dickens, would publish her poetry based on its merit and not based on his relationship with her family.
Adelaide’s poems continued to be published in magazines and books. She published Legends and Lyrics, the first series of her principal work, in 1858. Nine editions of Legends and Lyrics were published in seven years. Charles Dickens eventually, and accidentally, discovered her identity and wrote an introduction for the edition published in 1866.
In addition to being a poet, Adelaide was a true women’s rights activist. She wrote about and advocated for women’s rights and to further women’s education and employment until her death. She died of tuberculosis on February 2, 1864, at just 38 years old.
Check out some of Adelaide Procter’s poems at http://www.poemhunter.com/adelaide-a-procter/. You can also go to the Rohrbach Library catalog and do an author search for “Procter, Adelaide.”
Happy birthday, Adelaide!
Information taken from http://gerald-massey.org.uk/procter/index.htm.