Vol. 7: Tucker, Bernard.

Type: Article

Tucker, Bernard. ‘‘Our Chief Poetess’: Mary Barber and Swift’s Circle.’, Eighteenth-century Ireland/Iris an dá chultúr, Vol. 7 (1992), Pp 43-56.

Until recently, according to Bernard Tucker, ‘scant attention’ has been paid to Irish women poets of the first half of the eighteenth-century. Despite the success of her collection titled Poems on Several Occasions shortly after its publication in 1734, and Swift’s description of her as ‘our chief poetess’ and ‘a poetical genius’, Mary Barber is one of the few Irish women poets of her time remembered today. Tucker discusses Barber a member of the ‘Swift circle’ of poets, Swift’s efforts to get her published, Barber’s ambitions to be published and her possible forgery of Swift’s signature, her arrest in England in 1734 for ‘importing’ Swift’s ‘scurrilous’ works, and her poor health which led to her death in 1757. Tucker also examines prevalent themes in Barber’s poetry: women and work, education, and friendships, her son, and Britain’s treatment of Ireland. He also compares Barber’s poetic style with that of Swift and concludes that Mary Barber deserves to be remembered “in her own right”.