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Augusta Webster

1837-1894

Julia Augusta Davies was the daughter of a Vice-Admiral in the British Navy.  She was educated, unusually for her time, in classical languages.  She married a solicitor in 1863.  Mother and Daughter, the unfinished sonnet sequence published after her death, is a tribute to her relationship with her daughter.

Webster initiated her writing career in 1860, initially writing under the pseudonym Cecil Home.  She was well received as a poet, a translator of classical Greek, and a dramatist.  She also wrote regular columns for the periodical the Examiner.  She spoke and wrote in the campaign for female suffrage and was among the first women to be elected to the London School Board.  Augusta Webster's best work explores the condition of women, whether in classical mythology or contemporary mythology, using the form of the dramatic monologue.  "A Castaway" presents in its representation of prostitution an interesting counterpoint to Dante Gabriel Rossetti's "Jenny."  The two poems were written very close together and there is some possibility that Webster, who was connected with the Rossetti circle, may have seen the earlier poem in manuscript.

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