Ann Yearsley (née Cromartie)

(15 July 1753 - 6 May 1806)
Ann Yearsley (1753-1806)

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Ann Yearsley (1753-1806)

Works in ECPA

alphabetical listing / listing in source editions

Source editions

  • Yearsley, Ann, 1753-1806. Poems, on several occasions. By Ann Yearsley, a milkwoman of Bristol [poems only]. The second edition. London: printed for T. Cadell, in the Strand, 1785. xxxii, 127p. (ESTC N22108)
  • Yearsley, Ann, 1753-1806 A Poem on the Inhumanity of the Slave Trade. London: Printed For G.G.J. And J. Robinson, Paternoster-Row, MDCCLXXXVIII., 1788. (ESTC T96948)

Biographical note

Born Ann Cromartie, the daughter of humble parents who lived in Bristol, Ann Yearsley had little education, but was taught to read by her brother and had access to books from a circulating library. Like her mother, she worked in Bristol as a milkmaid. In 1774, she married John Yearsley (1748-1803) with whom she had six children, but who failed to support the family. By 1784, the family was homeless and impoverished. The Yearsleys were rescued by local financier Richard Vaughan who had heard of their predicament. Ann had begun to write poetry and came under the patronage of Hannah More (1745-1833) who, with the help of Elizabeth Montagu (1718-1800), set up a subscription for her in 1784. Ann Yearsley's first collection Poems on Several Occasions was published by Thomas Cadell in 1785 and reissued twice in the same year. However, Yearsley and More quarreled bitterly over the use of the funds raised, and parted ways. Yearsley published a new edition of her works, Poems on Various Subjects, in 1787, which contained many new poems. In 1793, Yearsley set up a circulating library at Bristol, assisted among others by the bookseller and editor of The Monthly Review Ralph Griffiths. In addition to her more than 100 published poems, Yearsley also wrote a play and a novel. She retired to Wiltshire to live near her son John in 1803. She died in 1806 and was buried in Bristol.


DMI 2353; ODNB 30206; NCBEL 698


  • Andrews, Kerri, Tim Fulford, Bridget Keegan, eds. The Collected Works of Ann Yearsley. The Pickering Masters. London: Pickering & Chatto, 2014. Print. 3 volumes.


  • Waldron, Mary. Lactilla, Milkwoman of Clifton: The Life and Writings of Ann Yearsley, 1753-1806. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1996. Print.

Reference works

  • Baines, Paul, Julian Ferraro, Pat Rogers, eds. The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Eighteenth-Century Writers and Writing, 1660-1789. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011. 376-377. Print.
  • Carey, Brycchan. "Ann Yearsley (1752-1806)". British Abolitionists, ed. Brycchan Carey, 2001. Web. 8 Nov. 2016.
  • Radcliffe, David H., ed. Ann Yearsley (1756-1806). Spenser and the Tradition: ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830. Center for Applied Technologies in the Humanities, Virginia Tech, 2006. Web. 14 Oct. 2011.
  • Todd, Janet, ed. A Dictionary of British and American Women Writers 1660-1800. Paperback edition, revised. Lanham et al.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1987. 336-337. Print.


  • Andrews, Kerri. Ann Yearsley and Hannah More, Patronage and Poetry: The Story of A Literary Relationship. London: Pickering & Chatto, 2013. Print.
  • Burke, Tim. Ann Yearsley and the Distribution of Genius in Early Romantic Culture. The Early Romantics: Perspectives in British Poetry from Pope to Wordsworth, ed. Thomas Woodman. Houndmills: MacMillan, 1998. 215-30. Print.
  • Carey, Brycchan. The poetics of radical Abolitionism: Ann Yearsley's 'Poem on the Inhumanity of the Slave Trade'. Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature 34(1) (2015): 89-105. Print.
  • Christmas, William J. The Lab'ring Muses: Work, Writing and the Social Order in English Plebeian Poetry, 1730-1830. Newark and London: University of Delaware Press; Associated University Presses, 2001. 235-66. Print.
  • Demers, Patricia. 'For Mine's a Stubborn and a Savage Will': 'Lactilla' (Ann Yearsley) and 'Stella' (Hannah More) Reconsidered. Huntington Library Quarterly 56 (1993): 135-50. Print.
  • Felsenstein, Frank. Ann Yearsley and the Politics of Patronage. Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature 21(2) (Fall 2002): 346-392 and 22(1) (Spring 2003): 13-56. Print.
  • Ferguson, Moira. Resistance and Power in the Life and Writings of Ann Yearsley. The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation 27 (1986): 247-68. Print.
  • Ferguson, Moira. The Unpublished Poems of Ann Yearsley. Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature 12 (1993): 13-46. Print.
  • Ferguson, Moira. Eighteenth-Century Women Poets: Nation, Class, and Gender. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995. 45-89. Print.
  • Landry, Donna. The Muses of Resistance: Laboring-Class Women's Poetry in Britain, 1739-1796. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1990. 120-85. Print.
  • Zionkowski, Linda. Strategies of Containment: Stephen Duck, Ann Yearsley, and the Problem of Polite Culture. Eighteenth-Century Life 13 (1989): 91-108. Print.