Starling [Hookham], M. A.

To date, little is known of Starling or her mother (also mentioned in this Correspondence) and their friendship with Mary Hays. It seems this is the same Mary Ann Hookham who authored the Life and Times of Margaret of Arigon (London, 1872).  The only Starlings to appear in Pigot’s 1823 London Directory were Thomas and William, both booksellers (and probably related), with Thomas at 7 Clark’s Place, Islington, and William at 21 Warren Street, Fitzroy Square (48). The Islington connection fits Hays well, given her many family members who had lived in Islington for many years, including herself and her sister Elizabeth. However, given the Brewer Street address for the above letter, it seems likely that Miss Starling is the daughter of William Starling, given the close proximity of Brewer Street and Warren Street. It is also likely that Miss Starling’s future husband is Thomas Hookham, Jr (1787-1867), also a bookseller, at 15 Old Bond Street (46). Given that the Starlings and Hookhams are booksellers, it is feasible they became known to Hays as sellers of one or more of her late publications. In the Holden's London Directory for 1805, there were several Hookhams listed in the print business: Jordan Hookham, bookseller and stationer to the Prince of Wales, 100 New Bond Street; Hookham and Ebers, stationers, 15 Old Bond Street; J. Hookham, printer, 13 Great New Street, Fetter Lane. The Thomas Hookham mentioned above was the son of Thomas Hookham (c. 1739-1819), bookseller and founder of a large circulating library in Hanover Square that he moved to New Bond Street in 1780, functioning by 1800 as a rival to James Lackington's massive "Temple of the Muses" in Finsbury Square. In 1794 Hookham opened the Literary Assembly reading rooms, where subscribers could read periodicals and have access to a wide assortment of reference works. If Mary Hays knew the Hookhams from the period when she was working on Female Biography, it may be that the New Bond Street circulating library and the Literary Assembly room were sites for the borrowing of books she needed for her research into the women who comprised Female Biography