In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, critics created multiple and contradictory portraits of the poet, novelist and letter writer Helen Maria Williams. She was first pictured as an earnest and slightly naive disciple of the Dissenting minister Andrew Kippis. In the 1780s critics sketched her as unsophisticated, admiring her “modesty and artless candour” (European Magazine 1786), and William Wordsworth deployed her as an icon of feminine sensibility in his poem “On Seeing Miss Helen Maria Williams Weep at a Tale of Distress” (1787). She next appears as a political thinker, an ardent abolitionist and later, in France, a revolutionary idealist. In 1793 she was imprisoned by Robespierre and …
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Duquette, Natasha Aleksiuk. "Helen Maria Williams". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 March 2002
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=4732, accessed 16 August 2017.]