Following the Muse: Inspiration, Prophecy, and Deference in the Poetry of Emma Lyon (1788–1870), Anglo-Jewish Poet

  • Michael Scrivener


There is no disputing that Emma Lyon’s poetry has been neglected.1 Her first and only volume of poetry was published in 1812 when she was twenty-three years old, as she enjoyed a brief moment of public attention. Her Miscellaneous Poems2 was reviewed favorably but condescendingly in the Monthly and Critical, and Isaac Nathan (1792–1864), a former pupil at her father’s boarding school, composed music for one of her songs, “The Soldier’s Farewell,” which was sung by the famous Jewish tenor, John Braham (1774–1856). (Nathan and Braham were involved with Lord Byron’s Hebrew Melodies of 18153). Also, in April of 1812, a poem of hers was sung at the annual meeting of a prominent charity, the Society of Friends of Foreigners in Distress. Lyon’s literary career was beginning with some modest success, but her public career seems to have ended after she got married to Abraham Henry (1789–1840) in 1816 and gave birth to ten children between 1817 and 1830.4 Some of her poetry after her marriage was recited at the Jews’ Hospital and the Jews’ Free School, and we know that she continued to write poetry but “en amatrice” as an amateur.5 Her manuscript poems still might show up eventually, but as for now, they are not known to have survived.


Jewish Woman Free School Classical Culture Woman Writer Cultural Authority 
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© Sheila A. Spector 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Scrivener

There are no affiliations available

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