A Snatch of Morning
I bought David Cecil’s Life of William Cowper, The Stricken Deer, at a time, in my early twenties, when I was starting to devour literary biography, my preferred reading ever since. I was by then familiar not just with Elizabeth Bennet and Jane Eyre and David Copperfield but with Jane Austen, the Brontës and Charles Dickens. Most of my literary friends were in the nineteenth century: the eighteenth was largely unfamiliar territory. All I knew about William Cowper was that he had been a favourite poet of Jane Austen’s.