Elizabeth Rowe (née Singer)

(11 September 1674 - 20 February 1737)
Elizabeth Rowe (née Singer) (1674-1737)

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Elizabeth Rowe (née Singer) (1674-1737)

Works in ECPA

alphabetical listing / listing in source editions

Source editions

  • Rowe, Elizabeth Singer, 1674-1737. Poems on several occasions. Written by Philomela. London: Printed for John Dunton at the Raven in Jewen-street, 1696. [24],72,69,[11]p.; 8⁰ (ESTC R7317; OTA A57734)
  • Prior, Matthew, 1664-1721. Poems on Several Occasions [English poems only]. London: Printed for JACOB TONSON at Shakespear's-Head over against Katharine-Street in the Strand, and JOHN BARBER upon Lambeth-Hill. MDCCXVIII., 1718. [42],506,[6]p.: ill.; 2°. (ESTC T075639)
  • Barber, Mary, ca. 1690-1757. Poems on Several Occasions [poems only]. London: Printed for C. Rivington, at the Bible and Crown in St. Paul's Church-Yard, 1734. xlviii,283,[7]p.; 8⁰. (ESTC T42622; DMI 519; Foxon p. 45)
  • Rowe, Elizabeth Singer, 1674-1737. The Miscellaneous Works in Prose and Verse, of Mrs. Elizabeth Rowe: Published by her Order, By Mr. Theophilus Rowe. To which are added, poems on several occasions, by Mr. Thomas Rowe. And to the Whole is prefixed, An Account of the Lives and Writings of the Authors. ... . The fifth edition, corrected. To which is added, The history of Joseph, a Poem in Ten Books. Volume 2 [poem only]. London: Printed for J. Buckland, G. Keith, W. Nicholl, G. Pearch, and H. Gardner, M.DCC.LXXII., 1772. 2v.,plate: port.; 12⁰. (ESTC T92681)

Biographical note

Elizabeth Singer was born at Ilchester, Somerset, the eldest of the three daughters of Walter Singer (d. 1719), a dissenting minister who later became a prosperous clothier, and his wife Elizabeth, née Portnell. After the death of his wife, Walter Singer and the children moved to Eggford Farm at Frome, Somerset, in about 1692. Elizabeth enjoyed a comprehensive education, her interests in music, painting, and literature were encouraged by her father. She began writing and publishing poetry at an early age. From 1691 she contributed poems to John Dunton's periodical The Athenian Mercury under the pseudonym "Philomela". These verses were collected as Poems on Several Occasions. Written by Philomela, published by Dunton in 1696. She continued to publish in periodicals, and new devotional works appeared in Divine Hymns and Poems on Several Occasions … by Philomela, and several other ingenious persons (1704) and its second edition, A Collection of Divine Hymns and Poems (1709). Matthew Prior and Isaac Watts were among her early admirers. In 1710 she married Thomas Rowe (1687-1715), a writer and biographer, and moved to Hampstead. Their marriage was happy but brief, after a long illness Thomas Rowe died of consumption on 13 May 1715, aged 28. Elizabeth Rowe went back to her father's house in Frome, where she lived for the rest of her life. Her elegy On the death of Mr Thomas Rowe was published by Bernard Lintot in Poems on Several Occasions (1717), and was admired by Alexander Pope. Her Friendship in Death: in Twenty Letters from the Dead to the Living (1728), dedicated to Edward Young, was a sequence of short visions of the afterlife. She also published three volumes of Letters Moral and Entertaining (1729-1733), which were frequently reprinted. Her last work was The History of Joseph (1736), an eight book (posthumously ten book) poem in heroic couplets based on biblical narratives. Elizabeth Rowe died on 20 February 1737, aged 62, of apoplexy in Frome and was buried in her father's grave in Rook Lane Congregational Church. Her Devout Exercises of the Heart in Meditation and Soliloquy, Prayer and Praise was edited by Watts in 1738. The Miscellaneous Works in Prose and Verse of Mrs Elizabeth Rowe was published by Robert Dodsley from manuscript verse, letters, and other family papers in two volumes in 1739.


DMI 2113; ODNB 24198


  • Marshall, Madeleine Forell, ed. The Poetry of Elizabeth Singer Rowe (1674-1737). Studies in Women and Religion, 25. Lewiston, N.Y.: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1987. Print.
  • Richards, Jennifer and Robert C. Evans, eds. Elizabeth Singer [Rowe]. The Early Modern Englishwoman: A Facsimile Library of Essential Works. Series II. Printed Writings 1641-1700: Part 2. Volume 7. Farnham, Surrey; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2003. Print. (Contains a facsimile of Poems on Several Occasions [1696].)

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. 294. Print.
  • Todd, Janet, ed. A Dictionary of British and American Women Writers 1660-1800. Paperback edition, revised. Lanham et al.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1987. 273-274. Print.


  • Bigold, Melanie. Women of letters, manuscript circulation, and print afterlives in the eighteenth century: Elizabeth Rowe, Catharine Cockburn, and Elizabeth Carter. Palgrave studies in the Enlightenment, Romanticism and the cultures of print. Basingstoke; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. 18-91. Print.
  • Clarke, Norma. Soft passions and darling themes: from Elizabeth Singer Rowe (1674-1737) to Elizabeth Carter (1717-1806). Women's Writing 7(3) (2000): 353-71. Print.
  • Genovese, Michael. Raising the Dead: Collecting Women Poets in the Eighteenth Century. Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation 53(4) (2012): 492-497. Print.
  • Hansen, Marlene R. The Pious Mrs Rowe. English Studies 76(1) (1995): 34-51. Print.
  • Kennedy, Deborah. Poetic Sisters: Early Eighteenth-Century Women Poets. Plymouth, England: Bucknell UP, 2013. 59-92. Print.
  • King, Kathryn R. Elizabeth Singer Rowe's Tactical Use of Print and Manuscript. Justice, George L. and Nathan Tinker, eds. Women's Writing and the Circulation of Ideas: Manuscript Publication in England, 1550-1800. Cambridge, England: Cambridge UP, 2002. 158-81. Print.
  • Laudien, Heidi. Birthing the poet: Elizabeth Singer Rowe and the Athenian Mercury. 1650-1850 22 (2015): 1-17. Print.
  • Laudien, Heidi. Reading desire in the pastorals of Elizabeth Singer Rowe. Women's Writing 19(4) (2012): 602-21. Print.
  • Lavoie, Chantel M. Collecting Women: Poetry and Lives, 1700-1780. Bucknell Studies in Eighteenth-Century Literature and Culture. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell UP, 2009. Print.
  • Perry, Lori A. Davis. The literary model for Elizabeth Singer Rowe's History of Joseph. Notes and Queries 52(3) (2005): 349-51. Print.
  • Prescott, Sarah. Elizabeth Singer Rowe: Gender, Disent, and Whig Poetics. Womersley, David, Paddy Bullard, Abigail Williams, eds. 'Cultures of Whiggism': New Essays on English Literature and Culture in the Long Eighteenth Century Newark, DE: U of Delaware P, 2005. 173-99. Print.
  • Prescott, Sarah. Elizabeth Singer Rowe (1674-1737): Politics, Passion and Piety. Prescott, Sarah and David E. Shuttleton, eds. Women and Poetry, 1660-1750. Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. 71-78. Print.
  • Prescott, Sarah. Provincial networks, Dissenting connections, and noble friends: Elizabeth Singer Rowe and female authorship in early eighteenth-century England. Eighteenth-Century Life 25(1) (2001): 29-42. Print.
  • Shaw, Jane. Religious Love. Ballaster, Ros, ed., The History of British Women's Writing, 1690-1750. History of British Women's Writing 4. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. 189-200. Print.
  • Stecher, Henry Frederic. Elizabeth Singer Rowe, the poetess of Frome A study in eighteenth-century English Pietism. Bern: Herbert Lang; Frankfurt/M.: Peter Lang, 1973. Print.
  • Stewart, Dustin D. Elizabeth Rowe, John Milton and poetic change. Women's Writing 20(1) (2013): 13-31. Print.
  • Walmsley, Peter. Whigs in Heaven: Elizabeth Rowe's Friendship in Death. Eighteenth-Century Studies 44(3) (2011): 315-330. Print.