Harlow Museum: ‘Made in Harlow: Remarkable women’

Entertainment / Sun 12th Apr 2020 at 09:36am


From Harlow Museum

EVERY Sunday we bring to you a face from our ‘Made in Harlow: Remarkable women’ exhibition. The exhibition celebrates Harlow’s remarkable women past and present.

This week we present Sarah Flower Adams (1805- 1848).

Sarah was born in 1805 in a house in the High Street, Old Harlow. Sarah, along with her elder sister Eliza, were brought up in a household which placed importance on freedom of expression.

Their parents Benjamin Flowers and Eliza Gould met in Newgate Prison where her father was being held for his radical political views. Both girls were educated by their father.

The sisters were remarkably talented and were encouraged to develop their skills in the arts. Sarah became an accomplished poet and her sister a composer.

Together they wrote several hymns for the chapel. The most famous and finest of these was “Nearer My God To Thee” – reportedly played on the deck of the
sinking Titanic. Still sung today the words reflect her deeply held religious views. Since being set to other music, it has been used at the funerals of American Presidents.

In 1834 Sarah married William Adams, a railway engineer and writer who she met at the home of feminist Harriet Taylor Mill. She made an agreement with her husband that she should do “no housekeeping”. She kept her maiden name as part of her married name and continued to write.

She contributed to journals and radical publications, writing in protest of the hated Corn Laws ( a tarrif on grain). She produced two long dramatic poems,
“Vivia Perpetua” and “The Royal Progress”. Both these poems shared the themes of female strength and resistance.
Sarah’s health had never been good and in 1848 she died.

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