Portraits of Women Writers, 1775-1820

Last Updated 7May 2004

Visitors Since 9 July 1999
Mary Brunton from the 2nd edition (1820) of Emmeline 1818 published along with a Memoir of Brunton's Life. I've read both of these pieces--the memoir is very interesting, especially for the light it sheds on the problems of revision in the era before typing. Emmeline is a fragment and not appealing to the modern reader as it tries to show the evils of divorce and how divorced couples are doomed to misery. Her Self-Control is a long work that has a great heroine, but it goes a bit out of control--she gets so persecuted and traumatized it is very unbelievable, but still a fun read. Discipline is fabulous, featuring a truly modern heroine. For more details on these books, see the page on British Women's Novels (Image provided by Dr. Martin Porter)
Susan Ferrier, from an engraving after the 1836 portrait of her by R. Thorburn. You can see Ferrier's signature below the engraving. Susan Ferrier wrote three novels, of which I've only read Marriage (1818). Marriage is an enjoyable, funny novel dealing with the life of twin girls, born to a silly London beauty who eloped with a Scotsman. He was disinherited, and poverty in Scotland is too much for the beauty to endure. She leaves with one twin, Adelaide Julia, and leaves the other, Mary, to be raised in Scotland by her aunt, Mrs. Douglas, and her three great-aunts: Miss Jacky, Miss Grizzy, and Miss Nicky. Of course, when Mary is ready for marriage, she reunites with her sister and fun complications occur which of course contrast a fashionable London education and a good, moral Scottish education.
Go to British Women's Novels
Elizabeth Hamilton, from a period engraving for The Ladies' Pocket Magazine of 1825. I've read Hamilton's very funny Memoirs of Modern Philosophers (1800) and her fascinating saga of a handicapped, housekeeping heroine, The Cottagers of Glenburnie (1808). Her Letters from a Hindoo Rajah is also somewhat amusing but a bit more difficult to follow.
Go to "Female Self-Treatment: Preventive Medical Regimes, Piety, and the Novels of Frances Burney, Elizabeth Hamilton, and Elizabeth Helme"
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Elizabeth Inchbald from a period engraving. Inchbald was considered extremely beautiful; William Godwin proposed to her, and she supposedly told a joking tale of how she fought off a rapist by pulling at his hair. (The joke being if he wore a wig, she'd have been helpless ... hmm, some sort of culture gap here.) She also had terrible trouble with stammering. Most of her ouvre consists of plays and drama criticism, but she is also the author of
  • A Simple Story 1791
  • Nature and Art 1794

Go to British Women's Novels
Elizabeth Inchbald by Raeburn. Raeburn was one of the best portrait painters of the period, a good indication of the cultural respect Inchbald achieved in her later life. It was also rare for a woman to edit collections of plays and write dramatic criticism, one of Inchbald's major achievements.
Hannah More from an 1836 engraving after the 1786 portrait of her by Opie (husband of novelist Amelia Opie). You can see More's signature below the engraving. More wrote a great deal of educational prose and didactic literature. I've only managed to read her famous 1809 novel, Coelebs in Search of a Wife, which at times is pretty dull stuff.
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Jane Porter from a period engraving for The Ladies' Monthly Museum. Author of
  • Thaddeus of Warsaw 1803
  • The Scottish Chiefs 1810

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The town of Warsaw, Kentucky was actually named after Porter's novel.
Anna Maria Porter, from a period engraving for The Ladies' Pocket Magazine of 1824. Anna Maria is the sister of Jane. I read her novel, The Hungarian Brothers, 1807 which was very good. There is a copy of this novel at Cornell University.
Go to British Women's Novels
Charlotte Smith from a period engraving. Smith is the author of
  • Emmeline, or The Orphan of the Castle 1788
  • The Old Manor House 1793
  • The Wanderings of Warwick 1794
  • Montalbert 1795
  • Marchmont 1796

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