Williams, Helen Maria

Helen Maria Williams (1762-1827) published several poems in the 1780s while living in London, where she had come under the influence of Dr. Andrew Kippis (1725-95), a prominent Dissenting minister. She moved to Paris in 1788, and, except for a brief return to England in 1792, remained in France and Europe the rest of her life, making a name for herself as a political writer. Her Letters written in France (1790-96) brought her considerable attention by providing English readers with a sympathetic eyewitness account of the French Revolution (Benjamin Flower published an excerpt from the Letters in the Intelligencer, 4 January 1794).  William Stone’s brother, John Hurford Stone, had fled to France shortly after the Revolution, and soon became an intimate friend of Williams. Though a married man, he accompanied Williams on her travels in Switzerland in late 1794; at that time, she had been forced to flee France for fear of reprisals upon her by Robespierre (she would later record this experience in her Tour of Switzerland[1798]). J. H. Stone was later accused of treason and tried in absentia in 1798. He and Williams would live together until his death in 1818.