CARTER, ELIZABETH (1717-1806), English poet and translator, daughter of the Rev. Nicholas Carter, was born at Deal, in Kent, on the 16th of December 1717. Dr Carter educated his children, boys and girls, alike; but Elizabeth's slowness tired his patience, and it was only by great perseverance that she conquered her natural incapacity for learning. She studied late at night and early in the morning, taking snuff and chewing green tea to keep herself awake; thus causing severe injury to her health. She learned Greek and Latin, and Dr Johnson said concerning a celebrated scholar that he "understood Greek better than any one whom he had ever known except Elizabeth Carter." She learned also Hebrew, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and lastly some Arabic. She studied astronomy, ancient geography, and ancient and modern history. Edward Cave was a friend of Dr Carter, and in 1734 some of Elizabeth's verses, signed "Eliza," appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine, to which she contributed for many years. In 1738 Cave published her Poems upon Particular Occasions; in 1739 she translated from the French an attack on Pope's Essay on Man by J.P. de Crousaz; and in the same year appeared her translation from the Italian of Algarotti's Newtonianismo per le Dame, under the title of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophy explained for the use of the Ladies, in six Dialogues on Light and Colour. Her translation of Epictetus (1758) was undertaken in 1749 to please her friends, Thomas Secker (afterwards archbishop of Canterbury) and his niece, Catherine Talbot, to whom the translation was sent, sheet by sheet, as it was done. In 1762 Miss Carter printed a second collection of Poems on Several Occasions. Her letters to Miss Talbot contain an account of a tour on the continent undertaken in 1763 in company with Edward and Elizabeth Montagu and William Pulteney, 1st earl of Bath. Dr Carter, from 1762 to his death in 1774, lived with his daughter in a house at Deal, which she had purchased. An annuity was settled on her by Sir William Pulteney and his wife, who had inherited Lord Bath's fortune; and she had another annuity from Mrs Montagu. Among Miss Carter's friends and correspondents were Samuel Johnson, Bishop Butler, Richard Savage, Horace Walpole, Samuel Richardson, Edmund Burke, Hannah More, and Elizabeth Vesey, who was a leader of literary society. She died in Clarges Street, Piccadilly, on the 19th of February 1806.
Her Memoirs were published in 1807; her correspondence with Miss Talbot and Mrs Vesey in 1809; and her letters to Mrs Montagu in 1817. See also A Woman of Wit and Wisdom (1906), a biography by Alice C.C. Gaussen.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)