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  • Haley Jensen

Mary Palmer

Mary Palmer’s (1716–1794) legacy has often been overshadowed by her brother Sir Joshua Reynolds. He was of the most famous portrait artists of 18th century England. Palmer’s literary and cultural impact comes from writing A Devonshire Dialogue, which records the vernacular and dialect of west England and Devon in the mid 18th century. Wheatley’s literary achievements had often been dismissed to her race in her own lifetime, which is why she perhaps acknowledges the literary merit of Palmer who was dismissed because of her gender.

Letter from Phillis Wheatley to David Wooster, 18 October 1773

“Then to Lady Cavendish, and Lady Carteret Webb, -- Mrs. Palmer a Poetess, an accomplishd Lady”
mary palmer, women writers, west country dialect, phillis wheatley
Print made by William Doughty, 1757–1782, British, after Sir Joshua Reynolds RA, 1723–1792, British, Published by William Doughty, 1757–1782, British, Miss Mary Palmer, 1779, Mezzotint and etching on moderately thick, moderately textured, cream laid paper, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund, Public domain


The full letter is accessible with this link below! Im very grateful for the Massachusetts Historical Society for allowing me to quote these letters as well as having loads of primary sources and educational information on Wheatley available for free.

More information on Palmer from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biographies:

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