Scottish novelist and playwright Jane Porter died on May 24, 1850. She was born in Durham, Scotland on January 17, 1776. Porter was an avid reader and was said to have to rise at four in the morning in order to read and write. Her preoccupied demeanor earned her the nickname 'La Penserosa', possibly a reference recalling the poem Il Penseroso by John Milton, meaning 'a brooding or melancholy person or personality'. After her father's death, the Porter family moved to Edinburgh, where Walter Scott was a regular visitor. Sometime later the family moved to London, where Jane and her sisters became acquainted with a number of literary women chief among them were Elizabeth Inchbald, Hannah More, and Elizabeth Hamilton. All helped influence Porter to write.
Porter’s first novel Thaddeus of Warsaw (1803) is one of the earliest examples of the historical novel, and it went through a dozen editions. The book was based on Polish-refugee eyewitness accounts of the doomed Polish independence struggle of the 1790s. Her next book The Scottish Chiefs (1810) was about Scottish national hero William Wallace. The book was a success but the French version was banned by Napoleon. Other noteworthy works include The Pastor's Fireside (1815), Tales Round a Winter Hearth (1821), Coming Out (1828), The Field of Forty Footsteps (1828), and Sir Edward Seaward's Diary (1831) Porter also wrote two plays Switzerland (1819) and Owen, Prince of Powys (1822) and contributed to various periodicals.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of Great Britain’s Literary Legends. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:
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