Research Programs: Summer Stipends

Period of Performance

6/1/2009 - 8/31/2009

Funding Totals

$6,000.00 (approved)
$6,000.00 (awarded)

Sister Novelists: The Lives and Writings of Jane and Anna Maria Porter

FAIN: FT-56628-09

Devoney K. Looser
Curators of the University of Missouri (Columbia, MO 65211-1230)

Though virtually forgotten today, British sister novelists Jane Porter (bap. 1776-1850) and Anna Maria Porter (1780-1832) were international celebrities. Their bestselling historical fiction was in print for decades, but their innovations in the genre prior to Sir Walter Scott's have only begun to be acknowledged. In what is poised to be the first study of the Misses Porter, my book project sets out to document their important literary contributions, as well as the ways they tried to negotiate the changing market for authors after Scott's success. I will also show how their great literary---but modest---financial achievements presented obstacles on the marriage market. Because thousands of their unpublished letters survive, the Porter sisters provide us with an almost unprecedentedly wide window onto the world of female authorship; rising and waning celebrity; financial struggles and hidden debt; and (for better or worse) failed courtship in the late 18th and early 19th century.