Jane Atwater Blatch (‘Myrtilla’) (1753-1843) was originally from Bodenham, Attwater was Mary Steele’s close friend and relation and the younger sister to Marianna and Caroline Attwater. She married Joseph Blatch (d. 1840) of Bratton in 1790 and eventually removed there, where she remained until her death. Attwater was primarily a diarist, beginning her entries in 1767 and continuing them into the early 1830s. She did write some poetry, however, most of it embedded within her diary (they appear like poetic effusions); other occasional poems were scattered among her extensive manuscript collection. Attwater’s long life spans the entirety of the literary activity of the women whose works comprise these volumes. She is present, along with Mary Steele, Mary Wakeford, and Mary Scott, in the original coterie surrounding Anne Steele; she continues in the next group that centers upon Mary Steele, Mary Scott, and Elizabeth Coltman of Leicester; and between 1790 and her death in 1843, Attwater (now Mrs. Blatch) is intimately involved with Anne Whitaker (who married her nephew, Philip, son of her eldest sister, Caroline [‘Dorinda’]) and Maria Grace Saffery, who married Attwater’s pastor in Salisbury.

As a member of original Steele Circle, Attwater witnessed the uniting of the Attwater-Whitaker-Andrews families, thus cementing the final link in this coterie of West Country women writers. Her diary chronicles her spiritual doubts and victories, her difficulty accepting her own ‘election’, her unusual fifteen-year courtship with Joseph Blatch, and the closeness they enjoyed as a married couple for fifty years. She also writes about numerous events in the lives of her own family members and that of the Steele family, including an agonizing account of the final months in the life of her only child, Anna, who died of consumption in 1809. The diaries of Jane Attwater and Anne Cator Steele are the most complete examples of life writing among nonconformist women in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries now extant. For a most complete biographical account of Attwater, see Timothy Whelan, Other British Voices: Women, Poetry, and Religion, 1766-1840 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), chapter 5 (pp. 126-53). Significant portions of Attwater’s diary, along with her complete surviving correspondence and miscellaneous spiritual writings, can be found in Timothy Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, 1720-1840 (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2011), vol. 8 (pp. 105-306); her poetry can be found in vol. 4 (pp. 191-213). For more on Attwater, see Marjorie Reeves, “Jane Attwater’s Diaries,” in Pilgrim Pathways: Essays in Baptist History in Honour of B. R. White, ed. William H. Brackney (Macon: Mercer UP, 1999), 207-22; Tessa Whitehouse, “Memory, Community, and Textuality in Nonconformist Life Writings 1760-1810,” Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 41:2 (2018), 163-78; Cynthia Y. Aalders, “Faith, Family, and Memory in the Diaries of Jane Attwater, 1766–1834,” Angelaki, 22, no. 1 (2017), 153–62; and Eloise Quinn-Valentine, “Writing Memory and Living Memory: The Life Writing of English Nonconformist, Jane Attwater Blatch (1753-1843),” M.A. thesis, University of Edinburgh, 2021.

For a selection of Attwater's diary available on this website, including an Introduction by Eloise Quinn-Valentine, click here; for a selection of her poetry, click here; for a selection of her letters, click here; for a prose meditation by Attwater, click here; for two informal sermonic discourses, click here and here.