The most significant Romantic period British woman playwright with Elizabeth Inchbald the only possible challenger, Joanna Baillie stands as one of the foremost women critics as well. Born in Scotland, Baillie evinced an early antipathy to her studies, and her late mastery of reading seems an unpromising beginning for a literary career. Yet her passion for mathematics and creativity in storytelling proclaimed a strong intellect and vigorous imagination. Her teen years disrupted by the death of her father, Baillie endured with her mother and sisters several years of transitory housing and financial dependency before her brother inherited his uncle’s London medical practice and they all moved to London. When the brother married in 1791, Baillie, her mother, and her sister moved to Hampstead, where Baillie remained for the rest of her life, and where she enjoyed an active social life among the circle of Hampstead literary figures, including her aunt, poet Anne Hunter, and Anna Letitia Barbauld. Her broadening circle of literary friends eventually came to include Samuel Rogers, Henry MacKenzie, Maria Edgeworth, and Walter Scott, among others.
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- Joanna Baillie (1762–1851)
Mary A. Waters
- Macmillan Education UK
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