Mary Gwyn

Mary Gwyn
Other names
née Horneck
Birth and death
1752 - 1840
Profession details
Socialite, Literary Muse
Alistair Grant

Mary Gwyn [née Horneck] (c.1752-1840), socialite and literary muse, Mary Horneck was Oliver Goldsmith's 'Jessamy bride'. In 1769 Oliver Goldsmith made the acquaintance of a widow, Hannah Horneck, and her two daughters, Catherine and Mary. Goldsmith nicknamed Catherine 'little Comedy', and Mary 'the Jessamy bride'. In 1771 Catharine married Henry William Bunbury and became 'Mrs. Bunbury'. Despite the twenty-year age gap Goldsmith became infatuated with Mary and she provided the inspiration for 'She Stoops to Conquer'. After Goldsmith's death, Mary married a Colonel Gwynn. She died aged ninety-two in 1840, and was reputedly buried with a lock of Goldsmith's hair given to her when he died. She was buried in Weybridge old church. Portraits of the mother and both sisters by Joshua Reynolds are in the National Portrait Gallery. Frank Frankfort Moore (1855-1931) wrote about the love story of Mary Horneck and Oliver Goldsmith in 'The Jessamy Bride' of 1897.

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