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Anne Donnellan

(b. 1702, Dublin, Leinster, Ireland – d. 1762, Charles Street, Mayfair, London )

Gender: F

Anne Donnellan, née Donnellan, singer, salonniere, and literary critic, was born in 1700 or 1702 in Dublin, Ireland, to Nehemiah Donnellan (1649-1705), Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer (1702-1705), and Martha Donnellan née Ussher, later Perceval, (d.1751). salonniere. Following Nehemiah's death in 1705, Martha married (1712) Philip Perceval (1686-1748), Irish MP and 3rd son to the Anglo-Irish peer, Sir John Perceval, 3rd Baronet, (1660-1686). Anne therefore grew up in a distinctly Anglo-Irish millieu, with her mother leading salons in London throughout the 1720s and '30s. Anne Donnellan joined the Bullstrode coterie surrounding Margaret Cavendish-Bentinck, Duchess of Portland in the early 1730s, after forming a friendship with Mary Pendarves, née Graville, later Delany, (1700-1788) during a trip by the former to London. A keen amateur singer and music enthusiast, Donnellan joined Delany in the circle surrounding George Frideric Handel, with whom she corresponded from 1734. The pair also formed friendships with Jonathan Swift's circles in London from 1733, through Mary's second husband, Patrick Delany (1686-1768). It was through Delany that she met both Bentinck and Elizabeth Montagu. Her musical reputation is attested to both by the fact that one of the neoclassical pastoral nicknames which she was given in the Bullstrode circle was 'Philomel' after the Greek mythological figure who was transformed into a nightingale, and that she is represented holding a songbook in the 1731 painting by William Hogarth, "The Wesley Family and Miss Donnellan". This painting, which is the only remaining visual representation of Donnellan, portrays her about to lead the younger daughter of her cousin, Richard Wesley (c.1690-1758) , in a song, with the elder daughter accompanying on the piano. It was her friendship with Mary Delany which led to the other central coterie of Donnellan's life, the circle of intellectual women around novelist and printer Samuel Richardson (1689-1761), who acted as printer for Patrick Delany. There she joined fellow Bluestockings Elizabeth Carter and Catherine Talbot in advising Richardson on the composition of his Sir Charles Grandison (1753). Elizabeth Montagu and Donnellan corresponded consistently between 1740 and 1760, with Donnellan primarily staying in Dublin, with occasional visits to Bond Street in London. Their correspondence is primarily based on social and intellectual subjects. For example, it was Donnellan and the Duchess of Portland who served as Montagu's primary confidantes during the smallpox scare of 1741 when she was sent away from her home at Mount Morris, and wrote letters discussing both her family situation, and the readings in classical history she was pursuing as a form of distraction. Donnellan died in 1762, at the age of either 60 or 62, leaving a £1,000 bequest to Trinity College, Dublin.

Also known as:

  • Anne Donnellan


Electronic Enlightenment DOIexternal link

Mentioned in 15 letters

Recipient of 53 letters

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