Biography and History

Jane Porter, born in Durham, Scotland, was a novelist and the older sister of Anna Maria Porter. After the death of their father, the family settled in Edinburgh, where they enjoyed the friendship of Sir Walter Scott. Jane's novel Thaddeus of Warsaw (1803) is one of the earliest examples of the historical novel and went through several editions. The Scottish Chief (1810), a novel about William Wallace, was also a success and has remained popular with Scottish children. Jane wrote a number of other novels, as well as two plays; the latter, however, were less successful. She also contributed to various periodicals. Jane and Anna Maria were the sisters of Sir Robert Ker Porter, the historical painter.

Anna Maria Porter, like her sister Jane, was a novelist and a poet. At the age of 12 Anna Maria published the novel Artless Tales. She was in London by the 1790s, publishing verse in the Universal Magazine. She wrote a short novel, Walsh Colville, which was published anonymously in 1797. Though her sister was the more popular writer, Anna was the more prolific. She collaborated with Jane and wrote, among other novels, The Hungarian Brothers (3 vols., 1807), a historical romance set against the French Revolutionary Wars, which was a huge success, published in several editions.

Source: From the finding aid for C1174