Mary Leapor Criticism - Essay

George Eland (essay date 1932)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Eland, George. “Molly Leapor—Poetess.” Northhampton County Magazine 5 (1932): 116-19.

[In the following essay, Eland evaluates Leapor's accomplishments as a poet and notes her indebtedness to her male contemporaries, especially Alexander Pope.]

In spinning the thread of Molly Leapor's life, the Fates by no means used their softest and their whitest wool; but they allowed her to be born at a pleasant spot, Marston St. Lawrence, Northamptonshire, on February 26th, 1724, daughter of Philip Leapor, the gardener to Sir John Blencowe, who had retired from the Bench two years before, aged 82. Beside being a sound judge he was a kind master, for when his wife...

(The entire section is 2276 words.)

Edmund Blunden (essay date 1936)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Blunden, Edmund. “A Northamptonshire Poetess: Glimpses of an Eighteenth-Century Prodigy.” Journal of the Northamptonshire Natural History Society XXVII, no. 215 (June 1936): 59-74.

[In the following essay, Blunden offers an appreciation of Leapor's poetry.]

Of the agreeable writer whom I am now to discuss, I cannot pretend to offer a sufficient biographical account; and indeed part of my purpose is to encourage some other enthusiast forward with his or her fuller knowledge. Mary Leapor (for that is the name of the poetess) has never been quite forgotten since her death. William Cowper liked her work. She has her little nook in the Dictionary of National...

(The entire section is 5471 words.)

Donna Landry (essay date 1990)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Landry, Donna. “An English Sappho brilliant, young and dead? Mary Leapor laughs at the fathers.” In Muses of Resistance: Labouring-Class Women's Poetry in Britain, 1739-1796, pp. 78-119. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

[In the following essay, Landry discusses Leapor as a more radically feminist poet than earlier critics have recognized.]

But no Englishwoman ever wrote verses worthy of being twice read, who had deviated from virtue.

(Blackwood's Magazine [March, 1837], p. 408)

Sappho, Justified, either way


(The entire section is 19461 words.)

Betty Rizzo (essay date 1991)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Rizzo, Betty. “Molly Leapor: An Anxiety for Influence.” The Age of Johnson: A Scholarly Annual, edited by Paul J. Korshin, pp. 313-43. New York: AMS Press, 1991.

[In the following essay, Rizzo offers an overview of Leapor's life and writings.]

Molly Leapor was one of the eighteenth-century natural poets—sometimes called peasant poets, or primitives—whose work was taken to be illustrative of the genius provided by nature unassisted by art. Well known in her own time, she was forgotten until recently when there have again been stirrings of interest in her work and her career.1 To what purpose might we investigate them now? As a virtually...

(The entire section is 10496 words.)

Richard Greene (essay date 1993)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Greene, Richard. “Problems of the Woman Poet,” and “Primitivism and Education.” In Mary Leapor: A Study in Eighteenth-Century Women's Poetry, pp. 38-97; 157-85. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993.

[In the first excerpt which follows, Greene analyzes Leapor's attitudes towards issues of gender and domesticity, female friendship, and standards of feminine beauty. In the second excerpt, Greene examines Leapor's poetry in the context of the vogue for the works of “natural poets” during her time.]


The poet was a member of polite society addressing himself to his equals, and though poetry...

(The entire section is 32175 words.)

Valerie Rumbold (essay date 1996)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Rumbold, Valerie. “The Alienated Insider: Mary Leapor in ‘Crumble Hall.’” British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 19, no. 1 (spring 1996): 63-76.

[In the following essay, Rumbold regards Leapor's “Crumble Hall” to be a work of dissent that uses the traditional “country house” poem to convey the perspective of a working-class woman.]

Mary Leapor's ‘Crumble Hall’ constitutes an obviously unusual contribution to the tradition of the country house poem in England.1 It may even seem not to belong to the tradition at all, if we take seriously the definition proposed by Alastair Fowler: ‘“Country house poems”, so called, are...

(The entire section is 6971 words.)

Laura Mandell (essay date 1996)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Mandell, Laura. “Demystifying (with) the Repugnant Female Body: Mary Leapor and Feminist Literary History.” Criticism 38, no. 4 (fall 1996): 551-82.

[In the following essay, Mandell examines Leapor's poem “Mira's Picture.”]

'Tis true, her Linen may be something soil'd.
Her Linen, Corydon!—Herself, you mean.
Are such the Dryads of thy smiling Plain?
Why, I could swear it, if it were no Sin,
That yon lean Rook can shew a fairer Skin.
What tho' some Freckles in her Face appear?

(The entire section is 12291 words.)

Heidi Van de Veire (essay date 1997)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Van de Veire, Heidi. “A Note on Mary Leapor's Reputation.” Notes and Queries 44, no. 2 (June 1997): 205-06.

[In the following essay, Van de Veire points out a 1751 notice of Leapor's work in The Magazine of Magazines that had not been described by previous critics.]

Roger Lonsdale, Betty Rizzo, Richard Greene, and Donna Landry have all drawn attention to various notices of the contemporary reception and reputation of the poet Mary Leapor (1722-46).1 In addition to these it may be worthwhile to point out a notice of Mary Leapor's work which, to my knowledge, has not been described before.

The Magazine of Magazines,...

(The entire section is 969 words.)