March 12, 1799, Coleford, Gloucestershire, England.

January 30, 1888, Rome, Italy.

Howitt was born at her parents’ temporary residence while her father, Samuel Botham, a prosperous Quaker of Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, was looking after some mining property. Her mother was Anne Wood, a descendant of Andrew Wood the patentee (attacked by Swift in the Drapier Letters.). Mary was educated at home, soon read widely for herself in many topics, and began writing verse at a very early age. On April 16, 1821, she married William Howitt at Uttoxeter, and began a career of joint authorship with her husband. Their literary productions at first consisted chiefly of poetical and other contributions to annuals and periodicals. Mary’s life was completely bound up with that of her husband; she was separated from him only during the period of his Australian journey (1851–54).

On moving to Esher, Surrey, in 1837, Mary began writing her well known tales for children, a long series of books which met with signal success. She is the author of the famous poem The Spider and the Fly.

While living in Heidelberg in 1840, her attention was directed to Scandinavian literature, and with her friend Madame Schoultz, she set herself to learn Swedish and Danish. She afterward translated Fredrika Bremer’s novels (1842–63, 18 volumes), works which she was the first to make known to English readers. She also translated many of Hans Christian Andersen’s tales. The Literary Academy of Stockholm later awarded her a silver medal.

Botham edited for three years the Drawing-Room Scrap Book, contributing, among other articles, Biographical Sketches of the Queens of England. She also edited the Pictorial Calendar of the Seasons and contributed to The Literature and Romance of Northern Europe, 1852. On April 21, 1879, she was awarded a annual civil list pension of £100. In the decline of her life Botham joined the church of Rome, and was one of the English deputation received by Pope Leo XIII on January 10, 1888.

Her other works include:

  1. Bowed ’Neath the Load
  2. God Might Have Made the Earth Bring Forth
  3. How Goodly Is the Earth
  4. I Love the Sunshine Everywhere
  5. Let Me Suffer; Let Me Drain
  6. O Spirit, Freed from Earth
  7. O the White Seagull
  8. Thou, Earth, Art Ours, and Ours to Keep
  9. Thou That Art Strong to Comfort

Howitt’s burial place