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Sewell, Mary

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Mary Sewell, née Wright (1797–1884), was an English writer, poetess, and children’s author notably famous for her involvement in philanthropic work and her writing of widely circulated instructional pieces, predominantly in verse and printed in pamphlet or tract form. She is also remembered as the mother of English novelist Anna Sewell (1820–1878), author of Black Beauty (1877).

Early Life and Marriage

Mary Wright was born on 6 April 1797 in Sutton, Suffolk. The daughter of John Wright, gentleman-farmer, and his wife Ann, néeHolmes, Mary was the third of seven children. Her parents both came from Norfolk Quaker families and were members of the Religious Society of Friends, and Mary was thus educated following Quaker principles. She was instructed at home by various governesses through most of her childhood and until the age of 14, when she was sent to spend the last year of her education in a Quaker boarding school in Tottenham. Her formal education officially completed by...


  • Sewell, Mary
  • Children’s literature
  • Instruction
  • Morality
  • Philanthropy
  • Sewell, Anna

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  • Bayly, E.B. 1886. Memoir. In Poems and ballads, ed. Mrs Bayly, vii–xxvi. London: Jarrolds & Sons.

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  • Bayly, Mrs [Mary]. 1889. The life and letters of Mrs Sewell. London: James Nisbet & Co.

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  • Gavin, Adrienne E. 2004. Dark Horse: A life of Anna Sewell. Stroud: Sutton Publishing.

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  • Lee, Elizabeth. 1897. Sewell, Mary. In Dictionary of national biography, 1885–1900, volume 51, 287–288. London: Smith, Elder & Co.

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  • Sewell, Mary. 1889. Autobiography. In The life and letters of Mrs Sewell, ed. Mrs Bayly, 1–76. London: James Nisbet & Co.

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Correspondence to Manon Burz-Labrande .

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Burz-Labrande, M. (2021). Sewell, Mary. In: The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Victorian Women's Writing. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-02721-6

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