City Readers Digital Historic Collections at the New York Society Library
Ann Yearsley (1753-1806)
Ann Yearsley, née Cromartie (1753–1806), was an English poet and writer.
Born in Bristol to John and Anne Cromartie (described as a milkwoman), Ann married John Yearsley, a yeoman, in 1774. A decade later the family were rescued from destitution by the charity of Hannah More and others. More organized subscriptions for Yearsley to publish Poems, on Several Occasions (1785). The success of the volume led to a quarrel between More and Yearsley over access to the trust in which profits from the undertaking were held. Yearsley included her account of this quarrel in an 'Autobiographical narrative' appended to a fourth, 1786, edition of the poems.
Now supported by Frederick Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol, Yearsley published Poems, on Various Subjects in 1787. A Poem on the Inhumanity of the Slave-Trade appeared in 1788. Her poem was considered by many critics to rival a similar poem written by her ex-patron Hannah More entitled, "Slavery: A Poem".
She turned to drama with Earl Goodwin: an Historical Play (performed in 1789 ; printed in 1791) and to novel-writing with The Royal Captives: a Fragment of Secret History, Copied from an Old Manuscript (1795). Her final collection of poetry, The Rural Lyre, appeared in 1796. She was one of many prominent Bristol women who campaigned against the Bristol slave trade.
Yearsley's husband died in 1803; she died in 1806 at Melksham near Trowbridge, Wiltshire.