Elizabeth Ryves

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Eliza Ryves
Born 1750
Died 1797
London, England
Occupation Writer
Nationality Irish
Period 1777–89

Elizabeth "Eliza" Ryves (1750 – 29 April 1797) was an Irish author, poet, dramatist, novelist, journalist, and translator.

Eliza Ryves came from an old wealthy Irish family connected with Bruno Ryves. Her father was a long-serving Irish army officer. She was left with nothing of her father's inheritance after being swindled out of it 'by the chicanery of the law'.[1] Poverty stricken, Eliza travelled to London in 1775 to petition the government about her inheritance (which was unsuccessful) as well as to try to make a living as a writer. Ryves wrote in an assortment of genres including plays, verses, poetry, political articles for newspapers, and a novel entitled The Hermit of Snowden (1789), which is thought to be a story of her own anguish. Eliza commonly worked writing for magazines unpaid. The poetry of her later years manifested itself as politically Whig and was directed toward public figures.

In addition to being an author, Eliza learned French to translate several works into English including The Social Contract (Jean-Jacques Rousseau), Raynal's Letter to the National Assembly, and Review of the Constitutions of the Principal States of Europe by Jean-François Delacroix. She had begun to translate Jean Froissart's work, but gave up when it proved to be too difficult.

In 1777, Eliza Ryves had published a volume of poems entitled Poems on Several Occasions which was originally subscription based. Ryves was given £100 as payment for two of her dramatic plays, but neither were ever acted out: a comedic opera in three parts, The Prude (1777), and The Debt of Honour. According to Isaac D'Israeli (with whom she was acquainted), Eliza had written all of the historical and political sections of The Annual Register for some time.

In The Gentleman's Magazine 67 (July 1797), one writer noted that Eliza had spent the last of her money buying a piece of meat to help feed a starving family that lived above her. Eliza Ryves died poor and unmarried in April 1797 while living off of Tottenham Court Road in London. D'Israeli had extended her much compassion in his Calamities of Authors (1812) to which he expressed his praise of Ms. Ryves.


In The Monthly Review on An epistle to the Right Honourable Lord John Cavendish, late Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1784, a writer described: "This panegyrical Epistle seems to have been dictated by a sincere respect for the character which is the subject of it. The sentiments are just; and they are expressed, if not inelegant, yet in spirited verse."[2]

An exert of one of her poems entitled A Song.[3] (from Poems on several occasions) describes the lament of a person that held someone close:

Oblivion! sweet balm of our woes,
Where, where thy calm spring shall I find?
Its wave shall restore my repose,
And banish his form from my mind.

The Hastiniad; an heroic poem. In three cantos is described by one article as a "pro-Whig burlesque in the manner of the notable Whig satirist John Wolcot."[4] The poem itself is a mock epic satirising Warren Hastings, when he came back to England as the Governor-General of India to face corruption charges and impeachment. In a selection of the mock epic, Ryves is found to praise the Indian rulers for their patriotism in face of threat from the British:

Oh, glorious Chiefs! what northern sphere
Shall e'er such gen'rous Kings revere
As you, with patriot love replete,
Who pour'd your stores at Hasting's feet?


  • Poems on several occasions (1777)
  • Ode to the Rev. Mr. Mason (1780)
  • Dialogue in the Elysian fields, between Caesar and Cato (1784)
  • An epistle to the Right Honourable Lord John Cavendish, late Chancellor of the Exchequer (1784)
  • The Hastiniad; an heroic poem. In three cantos (London: Debrett's, 1785)
  • Ode to the Right Honourable Lord Melton, infant son of Earl Fitzwilliam (1787)
  • The hermit of Snowden: or memoirs of Albert and Lavinia (1789)


  1. ^ ", Oxford DNB". oxforddnb.com. Retrieved 20 August 2017. 
  2. ^ Griffiths, R.; Griffiths, G.E. (1785). The Monthly Review. 71. R. Griffiths. p. 226. Retrieved 20 August 2017. 
  3. ^ "Elizabeth Ryves: A Song". spenserians.cath.vt.edu. Retrieved 20 August 2017. 
  4. ^ "Satirising the Courtly Woman and Defending the Do… – Romanticism on the Net – Érudit". erudit.org. Retrieved 20 August 2017. 


Elizabeth Lee, Rebecca Mills, ‘Ryves, Elizabeth (1750–1797)’, rev. Rebecca Mills, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 ([1] accessed 16 November 2011)

Spenser and the Tradition: English Poetry 1579–1830 ([2] accessed 16 November 2011)

The Cambridge guide to women's writing in English by Lorna Sage, Germaine Greer, Elaine Showalter ([3] 30 September 1999 pp. 549)

The Field day anthology of Irish writing: Irish women's writing and traditions By Seamus Deane, Andrew Carpenter, Jonathan Williams ([4] NYU Press, 2002)