Jane Porter, 1776-1850

Portrait

Biographical note

Scottish historical novelist and dramatist. Her novel Thaddeus of Warsaw (1803) is one of the earliest examples of the historical novel, and it went through a dozen editions. Based on eye-witness accounts from Polish refugees of the doomed independence struggle of the 1790s, the book was praised by one of its characters, the great Polish patriot Kosciusko. The Scottish Chiefs (1810) a novel about William Wallace, was also a success (the French version was banned by Napoleon), and it has remained popular with Scottish children. The Pastor's Fireside (1815), was a story about the later Stuarts. She wrote a number of novels, as well as two plays, which were less successful. Her play, Switzerland (1819), had Edmund Kean and Charles Kemble in the principal roles but it closed after one performance. A later play, Owen, Prince of Powys (1822), closed after three performances. Jane also contributed to various periodicals. She also wrote Tales Round a Winter Hearth (1821), Coming Out (1828) and The Field of Forty Footsteps (1828) with her sister, Anna Maria Porter (1780–1832).

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