About this item

A brilliant and unconventional figure, Anne Barnard lived a life that might have been the outline of a novel by her contemporary, Jane Austen, or by Edith Wharton.

She was born in Scotland in 1772, lived at the heart of Georgian society, and yet defined herself by defiance of convention. Anne Barnard's charisma was undeniable: she wrote the most popular Scottish ballad of her day, had her poetry praised by Walter Scott, and at the age of eighteen dazzled Dr. Johnson with her repartee.

Both a beauty and a wit, Barnard had affairs with several prominent men but ended up marrying none of them. She lived independently and traveled by herself to Paris to observe the French Revolution. Her eventual marriage, to an impoverished, much younger army officer, scandalized polite society. The couple escaped to the Cape Colony, England's first African possession, where Barnard painted the vivid landscapes and worked on her memoirs.

Stephen Taylor has been given access to the private papers, including six volumes of unpublished memoirs. They show Lady Anne Barnard to be one of the extraordinary chroniclers of her time.

8 pages of color illustrations

About the Author

Stephen Taylor

Stephen Taylor grew up in South Africa, and now works for The Times. He is the author of several celebrated books on Africa. The Mighty Nimrod (1989) was praised by Wilfred Thesiger as 'comprehensive and perceptive', while Jan Morris declared his history of the Zulu people, Shaka's Children (1994) a 'generous and truly moving work'. His most recent, Livingston's Tribe: A Journey from Zanzibar to the Cape was described in the Daily Mail as the 'most honest as well as the most enthralling account out of Africa for years'.

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