Corvey home page    
 Sheffield Hallam University
 Corvey home page
 Introduction to the Corvey collection and SHU Corvey project
 Guided tours around the Corvey website
 Corvey Women Writers on the Web
 Belles Lettres, Women's Writing, and Travel Writing Catalogues
 Students' Journals, Adopt-an-Author projects
 News, Events, Activities, Conferences, Updates

Corvey 'Adopt an Author'

Anne Ker

The Corvey Project at
Sheffield Hallam University


Biography of Anne Ker by Laura Harrod

Anne Ker (Phillips) was born in 1766 and died in 1821. She was the daughter of John Phillips, who was the author of History of Inland Navigation published in 1791 and The Builders Price Book. He was a surveyor of canals and died in 1813. [1]

Anne Ker is the author of six novels: The Heiress of Montalde; or the Castle of Bezanto, a novel (1799) dedicated to the Princess Augusta Sophia, Adeline Saint Julian; or the Midnight Hour, a novel (1800), Emmeline; or the Happy Discovery, a novel (1801) dedicated to Lady Jerringham, The Mysterious Count; or Montville Castle of Romance (1803) (the list of subscribers in this particular novel includes the Princess of Wales), Modern Faults; a novel Founded on Facts (1804), Edric the Forester; or the Mysteries of the Haunted Chamber, an Historical Romance (1817).

She appealed to the Royal Literary Fund [2] for money six times during the course of fourteen months. All the letters are sent from 48 Wellington Street, Newington Causeway, Surrey. Her first request dated 1 August 1820 (however, her subsequent letter dates her first request as July) resulted with her being awarded five pounds which she received less than twenty three days later. Aged fifty four, she complains that she is suffering from gout and ‘at this time nearly in want of bread to exist’. On 24 August 1820 the Royal Literary Fund registers that she sent them a copy of Edric the Forester; or the Mysteries of the Haunted Chamber as a thank you for their help.

Three months later, on 25 November 1820, she again appeals to the fund; however, this time her request was deferred as it was deemed ‘too soon after former relief’. Her third request dated 2 January 1821 describes how she failed to take up a position as an assistant in a school because she could not afford any decent clothes. She asks for help during this ‘dreadful season, being opprest with the poverty, age, and the gout which now greatly afflicts her right hand’ which is exacerbated as her ‘husband was taken ill yesterday, with a very severe cold’. She acknowledged the receipt of five pounds, eleven days later on 13 January 1821.

Anne Ker wrote to the Royal Literary Fund again on 1 May 1821. She states that since she last wrote she was ‘attacked in so violent a manner with the gout, and the fever so raged, as to cause an abscess in the breast’ and ‘the discharge was immense and reduced [her], to a deplorable state of weakness’. She could not afford a nurse and therefore her husband became both nurse and servant.

She wrote on 12 June 1821 asking if they had decided to help her, and on 27 October 1821, she wrote for the final time requesting money. She explains that the winter had advanced and the ‘little [money she] procured by industry has ceased’ and she ‘is now driven to various necessities’ to obtain money. She has ‘no prospect of relief till the end of March’. She desperately wants help as she has incurred ‘a few small debts’. However, this time the Royal Literary Fund declined to help her.

[1] Blain, V, Clements, P, Grundy, I, 1990, The Feminist Companion to Literature in English, Batsford, pp 608-9.

[2] Royal Literary Fund file number 424.


Back to Index Page