‘By the way, I smile to think how little the ensuing circumstances wou’d deserve the name of anecdote’, Anna Seward wrote to Emma in August 1763. 1 She was twenty years old and sketching out the stories of her friends’ lives in Lichfield. What is also apparent is that through the medium of the letters, she constructs an anecdotally-framed self-portrait which exposes her struggle for independence and authorship. Voicing the anxieties she encountered during her troubled negotiations with convention and the marriage market, she presents herself as an intellectual and sensitive young woman, capable of advising her close friends on every subject from literature to love. Although she joined in the social events, she was primarily a great observer. By watching Lichfield society from a position on the periphery, she stood apart from her contemporaries, recording what she saw. Despite the tribulations of entering adulthood, this was clearly an intoxicating time for her, when she was surrounded by the people she loved most: her sister Sarah, her foster-sister Honora, and friends Nannette, John André and John Saville.