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The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Fifth Edition
Paul Lauter, General Editor

Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson

Philadelphian Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson was among the best-known of the middle-colony poets of the eighteenth century, despite the fact that a collected edition of her poems has yet to be published. Her celebrity came from the variety and interest of her poetry and from her prolific and lively correspondence with such notable contemporaries as Benjamin Rush, William Smith, Annis Stockton, and Elias Boudinot. It comes as well from her reputation as a leading salon hostess during the years prior to the Revolution.

Originally engaged to Benjamin Franklin’s son, William, Fergusson eventually married Henry Hugh Fergusson in 1772. When her husband remained loyal to the British during the Revolution, Fergusson nearly lost her family estate, Graeme Park, to confiscation. Richard Stockton, Benjamin Rush, Francis Hopkinson, and other prominent leaders intervened on her behalf to secure the property, but Fergusson lived the remainder of her life separated from her husband and in financial difficulty.

In the Heath Anthology
An Ode Written on the Birthday of Mr. Henry Fergusson (1774)
On a Beautiful Damask Rose, Emblematical of Love and Wedlock (1789)
On the Mind's Being Engrossed by One Subject (1789)
Upon the Discovery of the Planet by Mr. Herchel Bath… (c.1789)

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A Preface to Eighteenth-Century Poetry
The complete text of James Sutherland's book on eighteenth-century poetry.

Secondary Sources