Composer Eliza Flower was born on 19th April 1803 in Harlow in Essex where she is buried beside her sister, the poet, Sarah Flower Adams, with whom she collaborated on many of her compositions. They both worked and sang together at South Place Unitarian Chapel, in Finsbury in London. Their contributions to cultural and political life were so important that when the chapel closed down their portraits and archive were moved to Conway Hall in London.
Eliza was a prolific composer of vocal music including dramatic hymns, powerful protest songs, delightful songs for the seasons, settings of contemporary writers like Sir Walter Scott and her frequent collaborator Harriet Martineau, and arrangements of tunes by Mozart, Bach, Handel and Beethoven. Her sister, Sarah Flower Adams, wrote the words of ‘Nearer My God To Thee’ but Eliza’s astonishing music for the hymn is now unknown, quite possibly because of the scandal that ensued when she set up a separate household with her married guardian.
Image: Eliza Flower (1803–1846) Tinted lithograph of a drawing by Mrs E Bridell Fox, 1898/99, Courtesy of Conway Hall Ethical Society