Wednesday 20th March, 2019








not required


Dr Williams's Library Seminar Series


The Lecture Hall, Dr Williams's Library, 14 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0AR


Mary Hays and Mr. Palmer: How an Enigmatic Address Unravelled a Genealogy and Revised History.



Mary Hays (1759-1843), the 1790s radical feminist novelist, left her family in 1795 to live in Kirby Street near her friends William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. Her time in Kirby Street was interrupted by a year-long stay in the home of a Mr. Palmer in nearby Little John Street, a most odd situation for a single woman at that time. Mr. Palmer, however, was neither single nor a stranger to Hays. The uncovering of his identity has led to significant alterations in what we know of Hays’s family, her activities in the fall of 1797, and her heretofore unknown connection to the artist Samuel Palmer (1805-81).



Prof of English Tim Whelan, Georgia Southern University

Prof of English Tim Whelan


Professor Whelan is the Series Editor of the Henry Crabb Robinson Diary (owned by Dr Williams's Library).

His early research interests concerned the poetry and prose of Anne Bradstreet, as well as American religious history. Since 1998 his research has focused on British nonconformity (primarily Baptist and Unitarian), 1750-1850, and its intersection with literature and culture. This research has led to articles on numerous Romantic figures, including Coleridge, Wordsworth, Joseph Cottle, George Dyer, William Godwin, and Henry Crabb Robinson, as well as several dissenting writers, such as the political pamphleteer William Fox, radical newspaper editor Benjamin Flower, the Baptist essayist John Foster, and the Baptist minister Robert Hall. My work has also led to recovering the lives and writings (both published and unpublished) of numerous nonconformist women writers and booksellers (mostly Baptist), including Maria de Fleury, Martha Gurney, Mary Lewis, Anne Steele, Mary Steele, Mary Scott, Elizabeth Coltman, Maria Saffery, and the controversial novelist, Mary Hays, the subject of this seminar paper. He is the general editor of the eight-volume Nonconformist Women Writers, 1720-1840 (Pickering & Chatto, 2011), which presented the published and unpublished writings and letters of a remarkable literary circle of women writers in Hampshire, Wiltshire, and Somerset that revolved around Anne and Mary Steele of Broughton. A monograph on four writers of that circle, Other British Voices: Women, Poetry, and Religion, 1766-1840 (Palgrave Macmillan), appeared in 2015.