Felicia Hemans’s ‘Casabianca’ took on such a vibrant life of its own after her death that, somehow, its author became almost irrelevant. In fact, Hemans was an accomplished and prolific poet who wrote over twenty volumes of verse before her death at the age of forty-two.

After she had given birth to five children, Hemans’s husband deserted her to live in Italy, and her writing served to help support her large family. She became a literary celebrity, garnering praise from the likes of Wordsworth and George Eliot, but her work was also criticized for its simplicity and sentimentality.

Felicia Hemans may now be a relatively neglected poet, but her popularity and influence in the middle and upper class homes of nineteenth-century England should not be underestimated. In more recent times, her sequence of poems recording the experiences of women in the nineteenth century, Records of Women, has been much admired.

Recording commissioned by the Poetry Archive, reproduced here by kind permission of the reader.

Poems by Felicia Hemans


Read by Alice Oswald
Casabianca - Felicia Hemans - Read by Alice Oswald

Featured in the Archive