Among the wealth of documents in the Matthew Boulton Papers, detailing the development
of the steam engine, designs for silverware, and ideas about the nature of electricity,
there is hidden another, more personal story, a story not told before: the story
of Matthew Boulton's beloved daughter, Anne.
Anne Boulton (1768-1829) was her father's 'Fair Maid of the Mill'. The Birmingham
industrial pioneer and his daughter wrote to each other often when he was away from
home, and their warm, affectionate and sometimes funny letters give us an insight
into their relationship, but Anne's story is also pieced together, like a jigsaw
puzzle, from fragments in other people's postscripts. Her health, mobility problems,
education, interests, clothes, friends, travels, love-life and household are all
to be found in this gossipy book, which throws the spotlight for the first time on
the family life of the Boultons and also provides a fresh perspective on the character
of Matthew Boulton himself. From the thrills of Matlock to the gory miseries of tooth
transplants, and from James Watt's wife's opinion of the Cornish to the necessity
of mastering the minuet, the book is packed with detail of 18th-century life, much
of it described by the individuals in their own words.
THE HARDWARE MAN'S DAUGHTER: Matthew Boulton and his 'Dear Girl.'