The poet William Cowper (1731-1800) visited Southampton on a number of occasions in the late 18th century. He was fond of visiting spa towns and seaside resorts as an antidote to depression or melancholia. Aside from delighting in rural scenes, he was attracted to the idleness, music, dancing, drinking and scandal that such places then afforded. He first visited Southampton after a bout of depression arising partly from his inability to marry his cousin Theodora Cowper. In letters to his sister he mentioned walking in the fields of Freemantle, Redbridge and Bevois Mount. He also recalls a boat trip from Southampton to Portsmouth.

William Cowper

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Portrait by George Romney, 1792, now in the National Portrait Gallery.

Newspaper clippings:

Article on Cowper - (SDE 06/04/1949)

Further reading:
More Stories of Southampton Streets, by A. G. K. Leonard, p123-4. (HS/h)


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