World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Jane Porter

Jane Porter
Jane Porter, from The Ladies' Monthly Museum
Born Jane Porter
(1776-01-17)January 17, 1776
Bailey in the city of Durham
Died May 24, 1850(1850-05-24) (aged 74)
Occupation Novelist
Nationality Scottish
Citizenship Kingdom of Great Britain
Period 1803–1840
Genre Historical Fiction
Subject Historical Documentary
Notable works The Scottish Chiefs

Jane Porter (17 January 1776 – 24 May 1850) was an English historical novelist, dramatist and literary figure.[1][2][3]


  • Life 1
  • Works 2
  • Influences 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5
    • Jane Porter biographies 5.1


Jane Porter was born in Durham as the third of the five children of William Porter and Jane née Blenkinsop. Tall and beautiful as she grew up, Jane Porter's grave air earned her the nickname La Penserosa ("the pensive girl"). After her father's death, her family moved to Edinburgh, where Sir Walter Scott was a regular visitor. Some time afterwards the family moved to London, where the sisters became acquainted with a number of literary women: Elizabeth Inchbald, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Hannah More, Elizabeth Hamilton, Elizabeth Benger and Mrs Champion de Crespigny.

Porter's siblings also achieved some fame in their lifetimes; her sister Anna Maria Porter was also a novelist; her brother Sir Robert Ker Porter was a noted painter.[4]


Porter is considered to have "crafted and pioneered many of the narrative tools most commonly associated with both the national tale and the historical novel."[5] Her 1803 work Thaddeus of Warsaw is one of the earliest examples of the historical novel and went through at least 84 editions,[6] including translation into French and German.[7] The eponymous hero of Porter's novel is Thaddeus Sobieski, a fictional descendant of King John Sobieski who fights alongside the invading Russian and Prussian armies. Based on eyewitness accounts from Polish refugees fleeing the failed revolts against the foreign occupation of Poland in the 1790s, the work was praised by Tadeusz Kościuszko, a hero of the American Revolution.

Engraving of the author from an 1846 edition of The Pastor's Fireside

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.[8]

Porter contributed to periodicals and wrote the play Switzerland (1819), which seems to have been deliberately sabotaged by its lead Edmund Kean and closed after its first performance.[9] She is sometimes "credited" with the 1822 production Owen, Prince of Powys, which closed after only three performances,[8] but this was actually the work of Samson Penley.[9] Porter also wrote Tales Round a Winter Hearth (1821), Coming Out (1828), and The Field of Forty Footsteps (1828) with her sister, Anna Maria.[1]

A romance, Sir Edward Seaward's Diary (1831), purporting to be a record of actual circumstances and edited by Jane, was written by her brother, Dr William Ogilvie Porter, as letters in the University of Durham Porter archives show.

In her later years, Porter continued to write shorter pieces for journals. Many were published anonymously or simply signed "J. P." Her wide-ranging topics included Peter the Great, Simón Bolívar, and the African explorer Dixon Denham.[10]


Porter, like so many of her contemporaries, was fascinated by Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene and Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia.[4][12]


  1. ^ a b McCalman, Iain, ed. (2009). "Porter, Jane". An Oxford Companion to the Romantic Age.  
  2. ^  
  3. ^ Todd, Janet, ed. (1989). "Porter, Jane". British Women Writers: a critical reference guide. Routledge. pp. 542–543. 
  4. ^ a b Sutherland, Virginia (2013). "Jane Porter and the Heroic Past". In Otago Students of Letters. In Her Hand: Letters of Romantic-Era British Women Writers in New Zealand Collections. Dunedin: University of Otago. 
  5. ^ McLean, Thomas (2007). "Nobody's Argument: Jane Porter and the Historical Novel". Journal for Early Modern Culture Studies 7 (2): 88–103. 
  6. ^ Looser, Devoney (2010). Women Writers and Old Age in Great Britain, 1750–1850. JHU Press. pp. 157 ff.  
  7. ^ Laskowski, Maciej (2012). as evidence of Polish–British relationships"Thaddeus of Warsaw"Jane Porter's (PDF) (in Polish). Poznan: Instytucie Filologii Angielskiej. Retrieved 26 September 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Birch, Dinah, ed. (2011). The Oxford Companion to English Literature. Oxford University Press. 
  9. ^ a b  McMillan, Dorothy (1885–1900). "Porter, Jane".  
  10. ^ McLean, Thomas (2009). "Jane Porter's Later Works, 1825-1846". Harvard Library Bulletin 20 (2): 45–62. 
  11. ^ McLean, Thomas (2012). "Jane Porter and the Wonder of Lord Byron". Romanticism 18 (3): 250–59. 
  12. ^ Kelly, Gary, ed. (2002). Varieties of Female Gothic 1. London: Pickering & Chatto. 

External links

Jane Porter biographies

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.