Classic Author Focus: Jane Porter

Jane Porter

Jane Porter is known as one of the earliest historical novelists. She is best known for The Scottish Chiefs, about William Wallace, which is still popular with British children, and her work was highly regarded by Walter Scott.

Porter was born in Durham, England, but after her father’s death, the family moved to Edinburgh, where Walter Scott was a regular visitor. Later, the family moved to London, where she and her sisters joined a circle of literary ladies. Several of her siblings were novelists.

Despite being one of the most popular novelists of her time, her brothers’ bad investments and heavy spending kept her very poor, as she and her sister were constantly having to pay off their brothers’ debts. She applied for a government pension but was denied, and had to move from one friend’s house to another, as she had no permanent abode.

Porter worked as a novelist, dramatist, and journalist, writing articles about Peter the Great, Simon Bolivar, and Dixon Denham, an explorer.

Dates: 1776-1850

Most popular work: The Scottish Chiefs

Other works: The Pastor’s Fireside, Thaddeus of Warsaw, Switzerland, Tales Round a Winter Hearth, Coming Out

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