Charlotte Smith was one of the best-known Romantic poets and novelists of the late eighteenth century. Her works have been credited with influencing Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. William Wordsworth is known to have admired her 1784 volume of ‘Elegiac Sonnets’ and described her as “a lady to whom English verse is under greater obligation than are likely to be either acknowledged or remembered”.
George Romney and Charlotte Smith were both close friends of the poet William Hayley, and this portrait was drawn while they were both attending a house party at Hayley’s Sussex home. Romney later included William Hayley in the portrait known as The Four Friends (1796) which is also hanging in this room.