Mary Jones

(8 March 1707 - 10 February 1778)

Works in ECPA

Source editions

  • Miscellanies in Prose and Verse. By Mary Jones Oxford: Printed; and delivered by Mr. Dodsley in Pall-Mall, Mr. Clements in Oxford, and Mr. Frederick in Bath, MDCCL., 1750. vi,[1],xlv,[1],405p. (ESTC T115196)

Biographical note

Mary Jones was born in Oxford, the second of four children of Oliver Jones, cooper, of St Aldate's, and his second wife, descended from the Penn family of South Newington, near Banbury. She learned French and Italian and began writing verses "at a very early age". Mary Jones who never married lived with her brother Oliver (1705-1775) who was a chaplain at Christ Church Cathedral. Through his office, she came into contact with the Oxford literati who supported her literary ambitions, such as Joseph Spence and later Thomas Warton, both Oxford Professors of Poetry. Her literary acquaintances also included Samuel Johnson, who called her "the Chantress" (Boswell, Life, 1.322) in allusion to her brothers' position of Chanter at Christ Church. Jones cultivated a small devoted circle of female friends to whom most of her poems are addressed, among them Martha Lovelace (1709-1788) who in 1739 married Lord Henry Beauclerk and later became housekeeper at Windsor Castle, Mrs Charlotte Clayton (b. 1698) ("Stella" in Jones's verse), who became Lady Sundon in 1735, and Anne Bowyer (1709-1785). Jones regularly visited Martha at New Lodge, Windsor, and Charlotte at nearby Fern Hill. Mary Jones published several poems in the 1740s, and in 1748 was preparing a collection of her letters and poems. Miscellanies in Prose and Verse, a collection of 53 poems, as well as essays and letters, was published in 1750 with 1500 subscribers and an unusually high proportion of eminent patrons. Much of Jones's verse is occasional in nature, playful and humorous, and frequently addressed to her close friends. The volume was well received, extracts were published in the London Magazine throughout 1752, and sixteen poems appeared in Poems by Eminent Ladies in 1755. Jones lived in Oxford all her life, she seems to have written little in her later life. Mary Jones died on 10 February 1778.

Bibliography

ODNB 37614

Criticism

  • Forster, Antonia. 'A Considerable Rank in the World of Belles Lettres': women, fiction, and literary history in the last quarter of the eighteenth century. Binhammer, Katherine and Jeanne Wood, eds. Women and Literary History: 'For There She Was'. Newark, DE: University of Delaware Press, 2003. 106-118. Print.
  • Kennedy, Deborah. Poetic Sisters: Early Eighteenth-Century Women Poets. Plymouth, England: Bucknell UP, 2013. 163-204. Print.
  • Lavoie, Chantel Michelle. Poems by Eminent Ladies: A Study of an Eighteenth-Century Anthology. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto, 1999. Print.
  • Messenger, Ann. Pastoral Tradition and the Female Talent: Studies in Augustan Poetry. New York: AMS Press, 2001. Print.