Extraordinary Women - The Singular Ann Ford Thicknesse (1737-1824): A Woman Ahead of her Time

07 March 2019



Visitors £5; Members / Students £2


Permissions: Thomas Gainsborough’s House, Sudbury

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Ann Ford, one of the most accomplished women of her day, was a gifted musician and singer. She defied her father by arranging and playing in public subscription concerts, and scandalised society with her published rebuff to the Earl of Jersey’s proposal to be his mistress. Bath society was further shocked when Gainsborough painted her with crossed legs, her ‘masculine’ viol de gamba by her side. She travelled with her husband Philip Thicknesse (one of the most hated men in England) several times across France, once with a parakeet and a monkey in livery in their entourage, and was imprisoned for eighteen months during the Revolution. She wrote Sketches of the Lives & Writings of the Ladies of France, perhaps to inspire English women writers, while her thinly disguised autobiographical novel School for Fashion was highly critical of women’s education.

Marie-Louise Luxemburg, Writer, BRLSI History & Culture Convenor