Marianna Attwater (‘Maria’) (1742?-1832) was the daughter of Anna Gay (1710-84) and Thomas Attwater (1691-1767) of Bodenham. Her grandmother, Jane Cator Gay (1680-1756) was the sister of Anne Cator Steele (Mary Steele Wakeford’s mother and Anne Steele’s stepmother). Marianna married George Head (d. 1785), a clothier from Bradford-on-Avon, in January 1773, and apparently did not write any poetry after her marriage. Prior to her marriage, she was very active within the Steele circle, visiting often at Broughton and writing all her extant poetry between 1768 and 1770, poetry that circulated among the Steele circle. She was particularly close to Anne and Mary Steele, but was also known to Mary Scott and Elizabeth Coltman. None of her twenty poems appeared in print in her lifetime, save for one hymn, "Jesus, and didst thou condescend," which was published in Bristol Hymns (1769) by her friend, Caleb Evans, minister at the Baptist congregation in Broadmead, Bristol. Though only known as a poet within her scribal circle, Marianna Attwater's poetry is of high quality; she employs both sacred and secular themes, expressed at times with great seriousness and at other times with a sharp wit. Her complete poetry and surviving correspondence appears in Timothy Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, 1720-1840 (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2011), vols 4 (pp. 151-90) and 8 (pp. 139, 188-93, 198-99).

For a selection of Marianna Attwater's poetry available on this site, click here.