Enlightenment Females and Freemasonry: Contributions by the Fairer Sex to the Freemasons’ Magazine with Newly Discovered Links to the Freemasons’ Female Charity in England
Subject Areas: Religious Studies
Providing an overview of poetic contributions by women to the Freemasons’ Magazine, or General and Complete Library, the first English Masonic periodical published between 1793 and 1798, this article identifies an anonymous verse by the poet, Anna Jane Vardill (1781–1852). A member of the Attic Chest literary coterie of Eleanor Anne Porden (1795–1825), Vardill’s poem was set to music and performed by pupils at the Anniversary Concert of the Freemasons’ Royal Cumberland School for Girls in 1797. This poem provides a link for unravelling the ‘her’ stories of the first hundred pupils at the School, established in 1788 by Chevalier Bartholomew Ruspini (c.1728–1813) to assist the daughters of deceased or distressed freemasons in 1788, the present–day Royal Masonic School for Girls. This re-examination of previously overlooked information reveals details about the cultural and personal lives of women included in various printed and archive resources held at the Library and Museum of Freemasonry.
Author: Susan Snell
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